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Reagan- the Man, 
the President 



Reagan the Man, 
the President 


Hedrick Smith 
Adam Clymer 
Leonard Silk 
Robert Lindsey 
Richard Burt 


® 

KAbYAM PUBbISHERS 


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Contents 


Introduciion; A Historic Opportunity 
Hedrick Smith 

I A Star Is Born 
Adam Chtner 

]] Creating the Role 
Robert Liridser 

III California Rehearsal 
Robert Lindsey 

IV On the Supply Side 
Leonard Sdk 

V Free Trader 
Leonard Silk 



VI 

Arms and the Man 

Richard Burl 

83 

VII 

Reagan's World 

Hedrick Smith 

95 

VIII 

The Final Campaign 

Adam Clymer 

127 

IX 

Mr. Reagan Goes to Washington 

Hedrick Smith 

147 


Chronology 

185 



Introduction: 

A Historic Opportunity 


Hedrick Smith 


We have arrived at a fascinating and quite remarkable moment in 
American political history. A sixty-nine-year-old man who has 
spent most of his working life in another profession has captured 
the Presidency and won the opportunity to lead a political revolu* 
tiOB. Or more precisely, a conservative political Reformation that 
seeks to redirect the role of government in American life and per- 
haps to reshape the national political landscape for the rest of the 
century. 

For Ronald Wilson Reagan is a crusader, the first missionary 
conservative to win the White House since Franklin D. Roosevelt 
defeated Herbert Hoover in 1932 and launched a literal revolution 
of governmental activism and Democratic Party dominance that 
has lasted nearly fifty years. Now comes another reformer preach- 
ing the gospel that government is not the solution but part of the 
problem, promising an era of national renewal based on less gov- 
ernment, and projecting that same jaunty, smiling self-confidence 
as Rooseveir £n the teeth of narional cjmicKm and despair. 

The challenge is monumental. Ronald Reagan takes office at 

/ 



REAGAN THE MAN, THE PRESIDENT 


a time when the wellsprings of public confidence have nearly run 
dr\' and the yearning for America to regain control of its destiny is 
palpable across the lan^. A decade ago, the seemingly endless 
agony of Vietnam sapped the nation’s strength and morale and 
left the crippling sensation that something had gone profoundly 
wrong. The seizure of American hostages in Iran sharpened the 
pain of national humiliation. The fifty-two hostages, pawns in the 
bv'zantinc internal feuding in Iran, became the concrete metaphor 
for America’s abiding sense of impotence. It was shattering to the 
national ego when the rescue attempt last .August aborted because 
vaunted American technology broke down in the Iranian desert. 

•At home, the nation’s economic afflictions have seemed be- 
yond the wit of thinkers to diagnose properly or the power of poli- 
c}‘-makcrs to cure. Three Presidents have ventured forth to do bat- 
tle with the twin-headed monster of inflation and unemployment 
and have ultimately been devoured by that dragon. America’s 
aging industry loses out all too often to foreign competitors. 
Growing dependence on imported oil has been an insistent re- 
minder of the limits of the country’s once apparently inc.xhaust- 
iblc resources and its vulnerability to the leverage of alien powers, 
.Americans may joke about the .Ayatollah, alxiut buying Sony TV 
sets and Toyota cars sshilc unemployment ir^cs in Detroit, or 
.ib(?ut foreigners purchasing Amcriciin banks and rich Midwc.--tcrn 
f.trmb.nd. but it is brittle laughter. 



REAOAN TItE MAN. TWE PRESJDENT 

leader to generate a governing coalition. The seventies demanded 
greatness but spawned mediocrity reminiscent of the nineteenth- 
century stewar^hips of Zachary Taylor, Millard Fillmore, Frank- 
lin Pierce, and James Buchanan. 

Now, with the characteristic optimism of the newly elected, 
the Reagan entourage proclaims its power to overcome the na- 
tional disarray and to set a new and positive course. Bolstered by 
the unexpected Republican majority in the Senate and thirty-three 
new scats in the House of Representatives alongside Reagan’s 
0 %’D stunning electoral landslide. Republicans claim a mandate 
for a bold experiment in conservatism — deep tax cuts, defense 
increases, a real rollback of Federal regulations, reduced environ- 
mental restraints on energy production, reduction of the size and 
scope of government, and proud restoration of the vigor and vital- 
ity of free enterprise. 

Party leaders like Bill Brock, the national chairman, think at 
long last that they discern the end of the Democratic era and per- 
ceive the potential for a fundamental political realignment that 
will make the Republicans (he dominant party in America for 
many years to come. To (he (radirional Republican base in the 
West and among white Protestant fanners, small businessmen, 
and alTluent suburbanites, they took in new legions of disaffected 
Southerners, Catholics, Jews, and ethnic urban blue-collar work- 
ers. On Capitol Hill, right-wingers talk confidently of a conserva- 
tive tide that has swept away such prominent liberal Democrats as 
Senators George McGovern of South Dakota, Frank Church of 
Idaho, John Culver of Iowa, and Birch Bayh of Indiana, cham- 
pions of govenmienlal activism and liberal internationalism in the 
Congress. The stock market has bubbled euphorically. 

Yet doubts linger. Once before, when Dwight Eisenhower won 
the Presidency in 1952 after twenty years of Democratic rule, the 
Republicans thought they bad overturned Roosevelt’s powerful 
New Deal coalition, heralding a new political period. Later, in 

turning point for the Republican Party. But in neither case was a 
political watershed crossed. Democrats and their policies were 

3 



REAGAN THE MAN. THE PRESIDENT 

lalcr restored, and the nation muddied on without turning a his- 
toric comer. 

Now. for all the force of the new Republican conquests, the 
election of 19S0 seems less an irreversible ideological tidal wave 
than a massive vote of protest against the status quo. an explosion 
of voter frustration against the incumbents that could turn against 
the Republicans four years hence if they do not satisfy the elector- 
ate. “We have brought together the elements of a new coalition,’* 
obsers ed Bill Brock, the Republican chairman. “The cementing of 
that coalition depends on our performance in ofiicc. We’ve got to 
act with some urgcnc}' to deal with the problems on which people 
voted — uncmplovmcnt and inflation." 

The dimensions of the Reagan victors' in November will un- 
doubtedly make the new Congress more pliable, but they will not 
stifle the opposition. One liberal Democrat who suivivcd the Re- 
publican sweep. Senator Gary’ Hart of Colorado, put a stark chal- 
lenge to the new leadership on economic policy. "1 give the Rea- 
gan administration about cichtccn to twentv-four months to 
prove it doesn’t have .my answers either." Hart declared. 

Tlic paradox is that with Republican control of the Senate. 
Kc.igan may have won too much. Democrats cannot be blamed 
for his failures and Republicans may be too slow to shed the dissi- 
dent h.ibils of opposition. They may be too unaccustomed to the 
responsibilities of gos'crning to puH together for Reagan’s grand 
design. The nciv President may find hss major objectives caught in 
?. cro'.sfuc between moderates and Islser-als who resist his emphasis 
rn defer:’? and budget-cutting and nght-wingcrs who w.mt to veer 
oH on i.a.ngcnts like abortion and school prayers 



REAGAN THE MAN. THE PRESIDENT 

In short, now that Reagan has won the opportunity to prove 
that conscrvativism works, what kind of leadership will he pro- 
vide? Will he be able to raise the American standard of living and 
national self-esteem sufficiently over the next four years so that in 
the presidential debates of 1984 no Democrat dares pose to voters 
the question that Reagan used so effectively against President 
Carter. "Arc you better off today than you were four years ago?" 

The challenge before Reagan now is to insure that the next 
time that question is asked in earnest, the answer is yes. 



I 


A Star Is Born 

Adam Clymer 


Ronald Reagan set foot on the national political stage on October 
27, 1964, tvhen he made a half'hour televised speech for the Re- 
publican presidential candidate, Barry Goldwaier. It did not draw 
much critical attention. That was long before newspapers seri- 
ously covered the role of television in politics, and neither The 
New York Times nor The Los Angeles Times mentioned the 
speech. Neither did Theodore H. White in his The Making of the 
President 1964. That collective inattention may hardly be surpris- 
ing, for in the poUtics of that year the speech was incfTeclive. U did 
nothing to avert electoral disaster for Goldwater, a disaster that 
leR his ideological allies on the defei^ive for many years. 

But 27,178,188 Americans voted for Barry Goldwater in 1964, 
and a sizable fraction of them heard and watched Reagan. His 
speech articulated and renewed the hopes that Goldwater’s im- 
pending defeat had dulled. So, instead of despairing one week 
later on Election Day, they stayed in the politics that many had 
entered only to help Goldwater. Twelve and sixteen years later, 
many of them were running Reagan-for-President headquarters, 

7 



I 


A Star Is Born 


Adam Clymer 


RonaM Reagan set foot on the national political stage on October 
27, 1964, when he made a half>hour televised speech for the Re- 
publican presidential candidate, Barry Goldwater. It did not draw 
much critical attention. That was long before newspapers seri- 
ously covered the role of television in politics, and neither The 
New York Times nor The Los Angeles Times mentioned the 
speech. Neither did Theodore H. White in his T^e Making of the 
President 1964. That collective inattention may hardly be surpris- 
ing, for in the politics of that year the speech was ineffective. It did 
nothing to avert electoral disaster for Goldwater, a disaster that 
left his ideological allies on the defensive for many yeai3. 

But 27,178,188 Americans voted for Barry Goldwater in 1964, 
and a sizable fraction of them heard and watched Reagan. His 
speech articulated and renewed the hopes that Goldwaier’s im- 
pending defeat had dulled. So, instead of despairing one w’celc 
later on Election Day, they stayed in the politics that many had 
entered only to help Goldwater. Twelve and sixteen years later, 
many of them were running Rcagan-for-President headquarters, 

7 



ASTARISBORN 


“Noi too long ago,” he continued, “two friends of mine were 
talking to a Cuban refugee. He was a businessman who had es- 
caped from Castro- In the midst of his tale of horrible experiences, 
one of my friends turned to the other and said, ‘We don’t know 
how lucky we are.’ The Cuban stopped and said, ‘How lucky you 
are? I had some place to escape to.‘ And in that sentence he told 
the entire story. If freedom is lost here there is no place to escape 
to.” 

Twenty-seven minutes later, after touching only lightly on for- 
eign policy but cataloguing the domestic failings of the Federal 
government from TVA to Social Security to Federal Housing pro- 
grams to tax policy, he told his audience: “You and I have a ren- 
dezvous with destiny. We can preserve for our children this last 
best hope of man on earth, or we can sentence them to take the 
first step into a thousand years of darkness. If we fail, at least let 
our children and our children’s children say of us we justified our 
brief moment here. We did all that could be done.” 

But if the speech demonstrated the strengths that Reagan 
could bring to a political career, it reflected some of the weak- 
nesses, too. Indeed, some Goldwater campaign officials tried to 
keep him from giving it on national television, although its earlier 
showings in California had proved a great fund-raising success. 
Their objection was to a passage in which he reopened one al- 
ready painful wound of the Goldwater campaign, the subject of 
Social Security. He made perfectly acceptable complaints about 
the financial soundness of the Soda! Security system, but went on, 
in words that would be used against him in his 1980 campaign, to 
ask: “Can’t we introduce voluntary features so that those who can 
make better provision for themselves are allowed to do so? Inci- 
dentally, we might also allow participants in Social Security to 
name their own beneficiaries, which they cannot do in the present 
program. These are not insunnotmtable problems.” 

That same insistence on pursuing politically lost causes turned 
up most dramatically in the summer of 1 980, when Reagan would 
not give up on the subject of Taiwan, a dead issue if there e^'er 
was one, until he brought it up and made his own judgment, not 



A STAR IS BORN 


politics because of the speech.** So Tuttle and others went to Rea- 
gan in early 1965, urging him lo run for Governor of California. 

Tuttle and others, like Hcniy Salvatori, an oil developer, kept 
urging Reagan to run. The success of his friend George Murphy 
in that year’s Senate race made it clear that being a former movie 
actor was no disqualiiication, something his opponents found to 
their dismay when their campaign commercials making fun of his 
movie roles backfired in 1966. But Reagan again demurred. Fi- 
nally Tuttle went to Reagan's home again and changed tactics, not 
asking him to run but asking him to let Tuttle and others explore 
the possibilities. 

Reagan agreed, probably without deciding if he really wanted 
to run for Governor, establishing a manner of making political 
decisions by one early move. This was lo be his pattern in 1968 
and 1976 as well. Friends of Ronald Reagan, an organization 
created by Bill Roberts and Stuart Spencer, the ace California 
political managers, started drumming up support, and Reagan, 
afier assuring them he was not going to run an ideological cam- 
paign, decided to run by September of 1965. 

It turned out to be a surprisingly easy campaign, both in the 
primary and the general election. The Democrats were overconfi- 
dent, and Californians had tired of Edmund G. (Pat) Brown as 
Governor after eight years in o/fice. Reagan did not worry about 
the movie star issue and surrounded himself on the campaign trail 
with actors like Andy Devine, Chuck Cormors, and Edgar Bergen. 
With little to worry about financially, the Reagan staff expanded, 
and he won a relatively mild primary campaign by an overwhelm- 
ing margin over George Christopher, the former Mayor of San 
Francisco. 

In 1980, when the candidate was sixty-nine years old, report- 
ers sometimes ridiculed his light pace of campaigning, but even in 
1966, at fifty-five, he often managed a nap in the afternoon. There 
was less to note in the success of the Reagan campaign than in the 
failures of Democratic attacks against him. They thought they 
could label him as an extremist, naming him as a front man for 
the John Birch Society. They counted on the movie background to 


A STAR IS BORN 


But the major step that Salvator!, Tuttle, and the others took 
— the one that gave the effort professional credibility — was the 
hiring of Cliff White. Technically his role was that of “adviser to 
the California delegation.” That delegation was pledged to Reagan 
as their “favorite son,” and no one moved into the state to take 
him on. But White was obviously promoting a real candidate, 
though the task was much trickier than it had been when he went 
out early — before 1964 — for Goldwaicr, bitting one state capital 
after another. 

White looks back on that ultimately unsuccessful effort with 
amusement. His overwhelming obstacle was the inability to 
present Reagan to potential supporters as a real, live candidate. 
“Californians think anyone they have elected Governor already 
has the highest honor in the land, and so there was great nervous- 
ness about the California reaction if he ran for President.” So 
White had to settle for saying he thought Reagan would run, a 
very unsatisfactory way to sell a candidate. 

An even greater obstacle was that this time White was up 
against the forces of Richard Nixon. If Reagan had raised $1.5 
million for Republican Party organs in 1967, Nixon had raised 
several times that over much more than a decade. In 1966 Nixon 
had traveled almost constantly to help Republican candidates for 
Congress, and a great many of them gave him credit for their suc- 
cesses. In Reagan’s area of greatest strength, the South, Nixon was 
well-conncctcd and popular.. The Nixon campaign was sewing up 
delegates while the Reagan forces were still plotting. And in the 
one state where Tom Reed and his colleagues made a serious ef- 
fort, Oregon, Nelson Rockefeller won the primary with the slogan 
“He cared enough to come.” Reagan, still the noncandidate, did 
not cross California’s northern border, and only got 23 percent of 
the vote. (He was on the ballot because the Secretary of State put 
him there, under state law which requires serious potential candi- 
dates to be listed.) 

An increasing, and thus increasingly obvious, level of political 
speaking that spring led up to the Miami Beach Republican con- 
vention itself, where Reagan formally announced his candidacy 



A STAR IS BORN 


public ofllce as public service, and he has the high school senior’s 
attitude that you do what you're expected to do, but you’re not 
supposed to vote for yourself.” 

But that 1 968 Reagan, jokingly diflident about the highest of- 
fice in the land, and reluctant to push himself too hard, was not 
the 1976 Reagan. After six more years in Sacramento (his 1970 
second-term majority was only half as big. but it was still comfort- 
able), satisfied that he had done a good job running the govern- 
ment of the largest state in the Union (even his critics agreed that 
he had not been as bad a Governor as he had threatened to be), 
Reagan approached 1976 in a very different position. 

First of all, be had expected Richard Nixon to serve out his 
term. Then Reagan had planned to take on all comers, especially 
Vice-President Spiro T. Agnew, for the nomination — and to win. 
But a funny thing happened on that road to the White House; Mr. 
Nixon resigned his office before he could be impeached, and sud- 
denly there was an incumbent Republican President, eligible for 
another term, to run against. 

That made a difference. Reagan had some very serious reser- 
vations about running against an incumbent of his own party. The 
"Eleventh Commandment" — a motto of California Republican 
politics enunciated by a former state Republican chairman, Gay- 
lord Parkinson — had served Reagan well in deflecting George 
Christopher’s attacks on him as inexperienced in 1966, and Rea- 
gan was reluctant to violate its precept: ‘Thou Shalt Not Speak III 
of Other Republicans." 

But while Reagan is a Republican of fixed principles, whose 
political philosophy really changes only through slight shifts of 
emphasis, not through fundamental reversals, he is not a tradi- 
tional politician, William French Smith argues that Reagan does 
not have "a lack of respect for tradition" — although to run 
against President Gerald R. Ford for the 1976 nomination was 
plainly that. But Smith docs not disagree with the account of John 
P. Sears, Reagan’s campaign manager until he was dumped in 
February 1980. Tf you come to him with a dilTereni idea," said 
Sears, who often did Just that, “he never told you. Things just 

IS 



A STAR IS BORN 


helped his campaign. But everybody else in his campaign and out 
of it thinks that the defensive position he was forced to adopt 
slowed his momentum and <»ntrtbuted to his narrow loss in the 
New Hampshire primary — a slate many outsiders had thought 
he would win. 

New Hampshire in February was followed quickly by defeats 
in Massachusetts, Florida, and Illinois, and the latter two stales 
had, in the early flush of the campaign, seemed ripe for Reagan. 
The campaign was nearly broke, and there was talk of dropping 
out. It bothered Reagan, and the Eleventh Commandment began 
to lose its authority for him. Complaining about how Ford would 
distribute Federal grants as he campaigned, Reagan charged, 
“The band doesn’t know whether to play ‘Hail to the Chief or 
‘Santa Claus Is Coming to Town.’ ’’ 

But the device that made a difference was the use of Reagan, 
speaking into the camera, for thirty minutes on television all over 
the state. Reagan says it was his idea to make the tape, when a 
Florida station decided it owed him thirty minutes of equal time. 
“Everyone said. ‘How are we going to use this time?' “ he recalled 
in an interview not long after. “I said, ‘TH use ii, giving my basic 
speech.’ ” It made little difference in one Florida showing, but it 
worked in North Carolina, where Reagan scored an upset win, 
and then a new version was shown nationally and raised enough 
money to keep the campaign going until the more hospitable 
Texas primary on May 1. 

No matter who came up with (he tactic, it was unconventional 
and against the advice of the professionals who were making Rea- 
gan’s rather flat commercials. And so, for the second time in his 
career, a straight-on televised speech played a vital role in his ca- 
reer. 

In Texas, where Reagan’s conservatism, and especially his 
Panama Canal formula (“We built it. we paid for it, it’s ours, and 
we’re going to keep it.”) played better than country music. Reagan 
profited by the fact that both Lloyd Bentsen, a Texas Senator, and 
Governor George C. Wallace of Alabama were no longer serious 


17 



ASTARISBORN 


old friend who had been Governor of his state when Reagan was 
in Sacramento. Laxalt was Schweiker’s scatmale in the Senate, 
and Reagan wanted to know if he was basically a conservative. 
Laxalt said be was, so Reagan agreed to see the Pennsylvanian. 

It was an intensely controversial move, which led Southern 
conservatives to an undying hatred for Sears. It was a bold gamble 
that did not work, but it worked no less well than standing pat 
would have worked. Schweiker auracted no additional delegates 
to speak of, and Reagan’s own campaigning (including an odd, 
tentative offer to send American troops to Rhodesia) won few 
more. It was left to Scars to try some adventures with convention 
rules that he hoped would force Ford to name a running mate, 
too, and thus lose either liberal or conservative support. But, 
though Reagan forces won a series of platform fights, they went 
down solidly to defeat at the convention, never approaching the 
breakthrough needed for nomination. 

After Ford won and gave a tough, enthusiastic acceptance 
speech, he called Reagan up to the podium, and Reagan gave a 
brief talk that outshone Ford’s, once again, as in the 1964 speech, 
cheering the defeated Republican right on to fight another day. 

He praised Ford, but most of all he praised the Republican 
platform. "There are cynics who say that a party platform is some- 
thing that no one bothers to read, and it doesn't very often amount 
to much.” But this time, he said, ‘The Republican Party has a 
platform that is a banner of bold unmistakable colors with no pale 
pastel shades.” He talked of Americans a hundred years hence, 
and said, “Whether they have the freedom that we have known up 
until now will depend on what we do here. Will they look back 
with appreciation and say. Thank God for those people in 1976 
who headed off that loss of freedom, who kept us now a hundred 
years later free, who kepi our world from nuclear destruction? 

“This is our challenge. And this is why, here in this hall to- 
night, better than we’ve ever done before, we’ve got to quit tatting 
to each other and about each other and go out and communicate 
to the world that we may be fewer in numbers than 
been but we carry the message they’re wailing for. We must go 

19 



REAGAN THE MAN, THE PRESIDENT 

forth from here united, determined, believing what a great genera 
said a few years ago. ‘There is no substitute for victory.’ ” 

Reagan, of course, was quoting General Douglas MacArthur’5 
famous 1951 farewell address to Congress, the speech that con- 
cluded, “Old soldiers never die; they just fade away. I now close 
my military career and just fade away.” 

Ronald Reagan did not follow MacArthur's example. 



11 


Creating the Role 

Robert Lindsey 


It oHen seems that Americaa Presideots come out of regional of- 
fices of Central Casting; If Jimmy Caner’s Georgia accent and de- 
meanor frequently seemed to remind Americans of some of their 
cliches about the rural South; John Kennedy's urbane humor, 
voice, and style seemed to fit their preconceptions about upper 
crust Boston; Lyndon Johnson was almost a caricature cowboy of 
Texas, big, masculine, and sometimes vulgar; Richard Nixon sug- 
gested a nouveau riche California, slightly insecure, on the make, 
and as trustworthy as a Los Angeles car dealer, some critics would 
say. Ronald Reagan represents other sides to some of those cliches 
upon which people have built their images of California; he was 
the handsome movie star, an immigrant from Middle America, 
like millions of other Californians who came west during the 
1930s to seek their fortunes and brought with them small-town 
conservative Middle Western values. 

Ronald Reagan is by profession a performer, and it is the sin- 
gle most important fact about him. He is a consummate performer 
who trained to be Governor of the nation’s most populous state 


2 ! 



CREATING THE ROLE 

emmtnt regulation, he says, and “'\“^ays solved 

energy crisis; hasn’t American ingenuity 

S::- S ~ 

we don’t. ... . worrvine about 

“Well. I say, isn’t it about time we ^ ” 

whether people like us and say. ‘We want to c r p 

Fron^thLuralbaekwoodscfNew England o .^ 
or the Middle West, from the suburbs of Los A g 

ment villages of Arizona and Flonda, and 
words during the 1980 presidential campaig ’ 
from their seats by the same electric shock, rose to the.r 


irom ineir seats uy n'v. 

exploded into long and emotional »PP^ ,etum the 

In truth, Jimmy Carter never ^'d America sb^ 


In truth, Jimmy carter never ‘ _ b„ause no- 

Canil to Panama - or stgn the SALT 11 trea y 
body would like the United States if it didn . > 

Reagan’s audiences clearly longed for a ^ same 

did, who felt the same gnawing feelrng in his s 
uncomfortable sense of insecurity and the end 0 
Americans and rheir country. But more, he was 
convinced them that it didn’t have to be ’b®* „ ,i,e un- 

how to turn back the clock and restore the Urn 

rivaled position of power it once had j,s aa,li. 

make them believe, as he often said, t Jj become 

est days, had been a ’’nation of destiny vcU bv the rules, you 

a land of opportunity again, where, if you played by the ru 
could get ahead, maybe even get rich. Hollywood 

Ronald Reagan was a member of a S'" ■"“^“Ss.u- 
actors and aaresses who were bound by contracts t p 

efthe moguls for fear of losmg their privileged position. 


23 



REAGAN THE MAN, THE PRESIDENT 

tract players acted on demand, reading lines written by contract 
writers and directed by contract directors, rarely being given a 
choice of the roles they played or a chance to play in a truly dis- 
tinguished movie, aware that for every Gone With the Wind there 
were a hundred lesser films. 

It was from this professional milieu that Ronald Reagan 
would begin his political career, and it helped m.ikc him perhaps 
the most effective American political orator since Franklin 
Delano Roosevelt, who. espousing virtually everything that Rea- 
gan would later denounce, was. curiously, his childhood idol and 
the model for his own oratorical style. 

Yet Reagan did more than master the skills of oratoiy. From 
his roots in the heartland of the nation during the lean years of the 
Depression and later, during and after World War 11. he evolved a 
person.tl set of beliefs, of what some pundits, not alw.ays approv- 
ingly, called “traditio.n,tr‘ values — belief in God and the family. 
Amcric.a right-or-wrong patriotism, optimism about the future, 
and the conviction that hard svork will bring its rcw.irds. In later 
years, he would be accused time and again of being .simplistic and 
demagogic as he toured the countiy .s.iyinc. or so it icemed. th.at 
the solution to vi,*iual!y .a!) of the n,ai!On"s problems was to get 
government out of people's hair. 



.CREATING THE ROLE 


ward that he was white when he said,- ‘For such a little bit of a fat 
Dutchman, he makes a hell of a lot of noise, doesn’t he?’ Ever 
since my birth my nickname has been ‘Dutch,’ and I have been 
particularly fond of the colors that were exhibited — red, white 
and blue.” 

Some youngsters who grow up in Middle Western hamlets 
like Tampico, Illinois (population 1,200), deplore their isolation 
and lack of big city distractions, but Reagan didn’t — or at least 
he didn’t in hindsight, when he recalled his youth in his autobiog- 
raphy. ‘‘My existence turned into one of those rare Huck Finn- 
Torn Sawyer idylls,” he wrote of growing up in Tampico, with 
“woods and mysteries, life and death among the small creatures, 
hunting and fishing.” They were, he wrote, “the happiest times of 
my life." It wasn’t an especially easy life; his father drank a good 
deal — “He had the Irish disease.” Ronald Reagan would say 
many years later— -and sometimes found it difficult to keep a job. 
But John Edward Reagan, a first generation “black Irishman,” 
was nevertheless an ambitious man and the family frequently 
moved as he sought a better job. By all accounts he and his wife, 
Nellie, presided over a family that was warm and close-knit. 

From his mother, who coached a local dramatic group, Rea- 
gan got his first taste of acting; his father, on the other hand, pro- 
vided the earliest influence on his political outlook. Jack Reagan 
was a hard worker who, much of his life, longed to own his own 
store, and he eventually became part owner of one in Dixon, Illi- 
nois, in 1920. The older man’s dreams of owning his own store, 
and his eventual achievement of the dream, if only briefly (he lost 
the store, financed on borrowed money, during the Depression), 
may help explain Ronald Reagan’s later close affinity with entre- 
preneurs who provided much of his financial support during his 
early bids for political office. 

Reagan, in his autobiography. Where's the Rest of Me?, called 
his father “a sentimental Democrat who believed fervently about 
the battle at Herrin in 1922, where twenty-six persons were killed 
in a massacre brought about by a coal mine strike — he never lost 
his conviction that the individual must stand on his own feet. . . . 


25 



CREATING THE ROUE 


He graduated from Eureka in 1932 at the depth of the Depres- 
sion, bitten by a bug to enter show business and uncertain how to 
go about it. "Broadway and Hollywood were as inaccessible as 
outer space,” he recalled later in his autobiography. He decided 
that for a young college graduate in Illinois his best avenue to 
achieve fame and a possible eventual bid from Hollywood or 
Broadway was radio, and he succeeded in landing a job in Daven- 
port, Iowa, at station WOC (the initials stand for World of Chiro- 
practic, an indirect tribute to Colonel B.L. Palmer of the Palmer 
School of Chiropractic, who founded the station). On WOC and 
later on a sister station, WHO in Des Moines, Iowa, Reagan 
began to excell at a new art form — broadcasting play-by-play de- 
scriptions of baseball games that he didn't attend, but pretended 
to, by reconstructing the events from Western Union reports of 
each play. Dutch Reagan, talkative, persuasive, and giiled with a 
voice and demeanor that gave him credibility, was soon one of the 
best known play-by-play announcers in the Middle West, and 
when he wasn’t on the radio, he found himself in growing demand 
to give speeches to local clubs and other organizations. 

He still had his ambitions for bigger things, though, and in 
1937, while he accompanied the Chicago Cubs on a trip to south- 
ern California for spring training, he looked up a friend who had 
contacts in the Hollywood studios. Reagan, who is nearsighted (he 
now wears contact lenses), was advised to take off his glasses for 
the interview and screen test 'that followed. Within a few days, he 
had a contract with Warner Brothers. 

In subsequent years, political adversaries depicted Reagan as 
a "second rate actor in B pictures” or “the nice guy who never got 
the girl.” It is true from a retrospective look at Reagan’s films that 
he did not possess some of the qualities that elevated some of his 
contemporaries and competitors, such as Gary Cooper, Clark 
Gable, Robert Taylor, or Errol Flynn, to superstardom. Neverthe- 
less, it is equally clear that until his career was sidetracked by 
World War II, and, to an extent, by his own post-war obsession 
with the Screen Actors Guild, Reagan had a more than successful 
film career and delivered several portrayals that earned him 


27 



CREATINO THE ROLE 


Before leaving Iowa, Reagan had joined the Army cavalry as 
a reserve officer, and he was activated after Pearl Harbor. But, be- 
cause of his poor eyesight, he was given “limited duty," which 
meant he ivas assigned to a unit making training films for the 
Army Air Corps. Situated not far from the MGM studios in Cul- 
ver City, the unit was called by some of its members, including 
stars such as Alan Ladd, the “Culver City Commandos” and 
“Fort Wacky." On occasion, he noted in his autobiography, it un- 
dertook projects that were vital to the war effort. “Possibly our 
most important job was also our most secret — in fact, it was one 
of the better kept secrets of the war, ranking up with the atom 
bomb project. . . , 

“All on our own, our special effects men — Hollywood gen- 
iuses in uniform — built a complete miniature of Tokyo. It cov- 
ered most of the floor space of a sound stage; above this they 
rigged a crane and camera mount and could photograph the 
miniature, giving an effect on the screen of movies taken from a 
plane traveling at any prescribed height and speed." 

When Army Air Corps generals heard about the project, Rea- 
gan wrote, they were dubious and sent a delegation to inspect a 
film simulating flight over Tokyo that was made using the tech- 
nique. “Skepticism turned to enthusiasm," Reagan recalled, say- 
ing that the military offleers concluded that the technique offered 
an otherwise unavailable means to give pilots a dress rehearsal be- 
fore they bombed Tokyo. 

When the war ended, a number of things had changed for 
Ronald Reagan. On the eve of Pearl Harbor, his career had been 
on the ascendant. He was getting better and better roles in films 
such as King’s Row. he was earning more critical acclaim, and 
Warner Brothers had tripled his salary not long before he was 
placed on active military duty. 

After the war, while he continued to make pictures, he never 
managed to recapture his career’s pre-war momentum; with a few 
exceptions, he was relegated again to B pictures with poor scripts. 
“I had a sneaking suspicion that a lot of people across America 



CREATING THE ROLE 


During the early thirties, all three of the Reagan males were 
strong New Deal Democrats, but toward the close of the decade 
Neil Reagan began to complain that Franklin D. Roosevelt had 
gone too far. Ronald Reagan later noted that he first began to be 
aware of what he considered the inefficiency and blunted incen- 
tives that result from an overgrown government while listening to 
his father talk about the Federal bureaucracy that had grown up 
around the W.P.A.; at one time, both worked for the Works 
Projects Administration. Neil Reagan had also become troubled 
by his inside look at government; he had become loosely affiliated 
with the Democratic machine in Chicago and told his brother that 
he was appalled by the corruption and patronage he witnessed 
and that he was thinking about leaving the Democratic Party. 
Ronald Reagan's antipathy was intensified, he said, during the 
war when he had his own first experiences with government effi- 
ciency: As the base personnel officer at Culver City, he wanted to 
lay off certain civilian employees who he felt were incompetent or 
unneeded. But he was prohibited from doing so by civil service 
regulations, and be didn't like it. 

But it was probably Reagan's experience as a labor leader and 
bis own increasing personal affluence as he grew older, as well as 
his subsequent role as spokesman for General Electric, that set 
him on the final course of his political evolution. 

Reagan was recruited in 1938 to be a director for the Screen 
Acton Guild, a union formed five years earlier to give perfonners 
more clout in dealing with the all-powerful studios. After his re- 
lease from the Army in 1945, be rejoined the board and was 
elected president of the union in 1947, remaining in this role until 
mid-1952; he was elected for another one-year term in 1959. 

It was in some ways an ugly lime for Hollywood, the era of the 
Communist witch hunt in which the House Committee on Un- 
American Activities was trying to uproot Communist sympathiz- 
ers who, its members claimed, had used the power of the screen to 

rintfterpro-5'ovwr propagam^a. /f ‘black-list. 

when writers and directors who had belonged to certain leftist 
groups or who had refused to answer some of the committee s 



REAGAN THE MAN. THE PRESIDENT 

questions were refused work in the film industry. It was also a 
time when there were indeed attempts by Communist-dominated 
labor unions and other organi^ations to influence the film indus- 
try’, a powerful communications force in the United States. 

Although the matter is still the subject of some debate in Hol- 
lyv<.'ood, by most accounts Reagan acquitted himself honorably as 
a moderate during the film industry's crisis; he resisted what he 
called “unofficial blacklists,” while leading an cfTective campaign 
against the relatively small but bona fide efforts of Communist or- 
ganizations to grab power in the film community. 

After an appearance before the House Committee on Un- 
Amcrican Activities in 1947. Reagan returned to Los Angeles to 
face another kind of crisis. The Hollywood go.ssip columns had al- 
ready reported that the Ronald Reagan-Jane Wyman marriage 
was in trouble, and in February 194S they separated. There was a 
brief, unsuccessful reconciliation, but that spring .Miss Wyman 
told a Los Angeles judge that she could not continue the marriage. 
Her husband, she testified, had become so obsessed with the union 
and his political interests that there was no time left for her. 
"There was nothing in common between us, nothing to sustain 
our marri.agc,” she .said. Miss Wyman was .awarded custody of 
their two children. Maureen and .Michael. 



CREATING THE ROtE 


ensued. He learned that there were two Nancy Davises, and the 
other actress had joined what Reagan called the “bleeding heart” 
groups. Ronald Reagan had met a woman who not only shared 
his views that America faced a grave threat from Communism but 
agreed with him on just about everything else he said politically. 
Nancy Reagan would become the final important influence in 
shaping the thinking of Ronald Reagan before he began his mis- 
sionary work for the General Electric Company. On March 4, 
1952, they were married. 

Many of the people who have watched the political ascend- 
ancy of Ronald Reagan say they believe that Nancy Reagan could 
be the single most important influence on him in the White 
House. From all appearances, they are extremely close, and Mrs. 
Reagan has become not only his wife but his political confidante, 
adviser, sounding board, and the person to whom he most ofien 
turns in trying to judge the motives and sincerity of people around 
him. 

Although be discounts her role in shaping his conservative 
philosophy, their politics are practically indistinguishable. In her 
case, they largely reflect a background of affluence and security 
and the influence of her stepfather. Dr. Loyal Davis, a politically 
conservative Chicago surgeon, now retired. Dr. Davis married 
Mrs. Reagan’s mother after her father, a New Jersey car salesman, 
had deserted the family when she was an infant, forcing her to be 
placed with relatives while her mother tried to support the family 
as an actress. Mrs. Reagan was adopted by Dr. Davis when she 
was fourteen. 

She attended Girls Latin School in Chicago and Smith Col- 
lege and, encouraged by her mother, came to Hollywood during 
the 1940s, where she was one of thousands of other would-be star- 
lets but was helped by the influence of Spencer Tracy and other 
friends other parents who worked in the film industry. When she 
arrived at the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer studios, she filled out a 
questionaire and, in response to a question on what her “greatest 
ambition" was, she said. “To have a successful happy marriage.” 



REAGAK TITE MAN. TOE PRES!DENT 

She was asked if she had any particular phobia and responded, 
“Superficiality. Vulgarity, especially in women. Untidiness of 
mind and person. And cigars." 

She went on to appear in eleven movies, most of them undis- 
tinguished, including one. Hellcats of the Navy, in which she co- 
starred with her husband. 

But this 1957 movie turned out to be the finale of her Holly- 
wood career and she retired, in effect, to be Mrs. Ronald Reagan. 

In Hollywood, she almost always played roles as ssvcct, femi- 
nine ingenues — an image that, in retrospect, she has maintained 
in her private life; she deplores many changes in modem morality, 
such a.s Ihx-in rcl.ationships and premarital sex and abortion. It is 
a siew of life that she shares with her husband and apparently was 
assimilated in her well-off. middlc-cla.ss upbringing in Chicago. 

Some people who have worked with Ronald Reagan have 
been critical of him as being overly reliant on others’ opinions be- 
fore making decisions and for having a tendency to t.ikc the ad- 
vice of the last penon who spoke to him on a p.irticubr problem. 
If this is true, Nancy Rcag.an could be the second most important 
person in the Reagan administration because she is the one in 
whom Rc.tgan has the most confidence, according to people who 
know both crihem. 



Ill 


California Rehearsal 

Robert Lindsey 


In Hollywood, if you didn't sing or dance, you would end up as 
an after-dinner speaker, so they made me an after-dinner 
speaker. Ronald Reagan 

Ronald Wilson Reagan, then fifty-fivc years old, was sworn in as 
Governor of California at sixteen minutes past midnight on Janu- 
ary 2, 1967. The previous November he had beaten the Demo- 
cratic incumbent, Edmund (Pat) Brown, the father of the man 
who would become Reagan’s successor, by almost one million 
votes. With thirty-two television cameras focused on him. and 
looking as handsome and boyish as he did on a movie screen, 
Reagan glanced over at his old sidekick from Hollywood, United 
States Senator George Murphy, and quipped, “Well, here we are 
on the late show again.” 

For cynics around the country, the comment must have con- 
firmed everything they thought about California. It was the ulti- 
mate California joke: two Hollywood celluloid celebrities, a politi- 
cally inexperienced movie actor and a former song and dance 


35 



CALIFORNIA REHEARSAL 

vi«d Reagan ,0 give a speech at one of onr fund-taisets, 
"“hon*h= had h'cotne 

Reagan remained uneasy ^te with the kind of Chi- 

aU. a calling that he often told him about years 

cago ward heelers whom fiends from Hollywood or the 

earlier. Instead, he preferred especially contemporaries 

come to CaUfomia “arinB *= > ,,,, „f ambition 
Dust Bowl without much roon > nve his father, were entre- 

preneurs, but unlike his father, they . .5 economic sue- 

carded private enterprise as ‘h' portion of the 

cess and they objected when they s 5 ^^ ^ government that 
profits from their work dtsapP'« ^ anivities that right- 
rtey felt was wasteful and « and encouraged people 

fully belonged to the private entrepreneur, 

not to work. ir man " Tuttle once said of 

••Every one of them is a self-made m , |j.^aaire Baekeis. 
the group that became known as a^hed Reagan, he 

In a discLsion of why they had system. We fell that if ■' 

aaidt “We believed in the free around bellyachmg 

was going to be preserved. “■*'“^ ° ,Ung about it. We gathere>i 

"" 

'^"California has a long if “""“X f “ug”y°s'cIndaU before the 



CALIFORNIA REHEARSAL 


they didn’t understand, and heeding warnings from Reagan that 
this country’s military capabilities were inferior to the Soviet 
Union’s, turned to a candidate who seemed to say he could not 
only protect what they had hut could assure them -that their lives 
would continue to get better. It was in California that Reagan first 
discovered this constituency. 

At the time he was elected Governor of California, the state 
had long had a laod'afopportunity image of boundless popuk' 
tion growth. The image was encouraged by its real estate huck- 
sters and publicists, and augmented by the celluloid exports of 
Hollywood, which frequently portrayed a glamorous fantasy land 
that never really existed except on the screen. But by 1967 it was 
beginning to show a few signs of middle age. Immigration of peo- 
ple from outside the state, a hallmark of California as much as its 
climate during most of its history, and a torrent during the fifties 
and early sixties, had started to slow significantly. There was 
beginniog to be less talk about California’s benign sun, Holly- 
wood glamour, and boundless opportunities and more talk about 
its smog, urban congestion, and crime. Its gilt-edged aerospace in- 
dustry, which had grown with the velocity of a rocket from World 
War 11 through the early sixties, was laying off employees and bad 
entered a deep slump. It was a time of social upheaval. The Berke- 
ley campus of the University of California had erupted with the 
Free Speech Movement in 1964 and the Watts ghetto in Los An- 
geles blew the following year. College campuses were aflame with 
dissent over the Vietnam War and other causes, angering many 
middle class Californians who, like Ronald Reagan, had fought 
hard to survive the Depression and couldn’t understand why the 
rebellious students didn’t appreciate their affluence and their 
chance for a college education. 

California was still a kind of national melting pot where peo- 
ple from elsewhere fled to escape their problems at home and ex- 
periment with new lifestyles and new religions, and every so often 
it still produced a Charles Mamou or a Jim Jones. But in other 
ways it was maturing, becoming more Middle America, less 
Lotusland. It was becoming more conventional, more conserva- 


39 



CALIFORNIA REHEARSAL 


as Governor called hts claims of savings overblown. An improved 
economy, which led to the creation of more jobs, and other fac- 
tors, they said, including the effects of more than 250,000 abor- 
lions that were performed on welfare mothers under legislation 
signed by Reagan in 1967 (he later said he regretted signing the 
bill) probably did more to cut the welfare case load than Reagan’s 
subsequent welfare eligibility reform. 

Despite such quarrels over the details of his accomplishments, 
the Reagan record in Sacramento is generally regarded as favora- 
blc, but his successes followed a rocky road at first, “We weren’t 
just amateurs,” his press scCTctary would say later of the first two 
or three years in Sacramento, *^6 were novice amateurs,” 

Shortly after his inauguration, Reagan announced to Califor- 
nians that he had made a discovery. The administration of Fat 
Brown, and by inference the Legislature, had “looted and 
drained” the state, he said, and had left the Reagan administra- 
tion with a deficit of almost $200 million. In a speech that bad 
echoes of some of those by his one-time hero, FDR, Reagan de- 
clared, “Not since the bleak days of the Depression — during 
which California was forced to such desperate measures our credit 
was afteaed for decades — have we faced such a dark picture . . . 
California for the last year has been spending $ 1 million a day 
more than it has been taking in.” 

Some of his critics would say ihcn and later that Reagan had 
overstated the seriousness of the fiscal crisis, but indeed the outgo- 
ing Democratic administration had done some tinkering with 
bookkeeping that had enabled it to avoid asking for an election- 
year tax increase, and it had left the legacy of a large deficit on 
Reagan’s desk. The new Governor told Californians that the state 
had no alternative but to raise taxes, and soon the Legislature bad 
passed the largest increase in the slate’s history, one which 
brought in almost $1 billion a year in additional revenue. This 
would be the first of three major tax packages and several smaller 
ones that raised virtually every category of levy in the stale and 
consistently brought in more money than the Republican adminis- 
tration said they would. 


41 



CALIFORNIA REHEARSAL 

occurred at a meeting early in 1971 between Reagan and Moretti. 
Reagan was still not getting many of his reforms through the 
Legislature, and he was continuing to make his feelings for legis- 
lators known to all who would listen. 

Moretti, a liberal Democrat who was opposed to virtually 
every line of the conservative rhetoric Reagan unleashed at any 
opportunity, telephoned the Governor early in 1971 and said he 
wanted to see hi m — alone. 

“There was just the two of us,” Moretti said later. “We had 
never been alone. There were always staff people around when we 
met. I walked into his office and said he had not been impotent. 
Using his considera. talents to sell a point of view, he had re- 
peatedly taken his case directly to voters via television.” The 
rhetoric had had an effect; public opinion polls perennially gave 
him high ratings, and it seemed clear that much of the public 
shared bis view of the professional politicians in the Legislature, 
creating a situation that, in effect, helped persuade Moretti to sue 
for peace. “Reagan’s very good at going to the people,” says A. 
Alan Post, who served as legislative analyst for the state during 
the Reagan years and was often his critic. “He’s extraordinarily 
good at formulating a political issue to the public and getting 
them on his side." 

Reagan accepted Moreiti’s offer of a truce and a chance to get 
One of his most imporant goals — the welfare reform legislation 
— moving in the legislature. After seventeen days and late nights 
of negotiations, the Reagan conservatives and the Moretti liberals 
Worked out a classic political oompromise. Reagan got reforms 
significantly narrowing the eligibility for welfare while the liberals 
got his acceptance of higher benefits and automatic cost-of-living 
increases for those who remained on welfare. After that, there 
were more disputes with the Legislature, but he had learned to 
compromise, and more and more of his proposals passed the 
Le^slature. 

‘The fint two years were miserable,” William Baglcy, one 
prominent legislator at the time, remembered, “but either by de- 
sign or experience or luck, it changed. After the first two years, I 



CAttfOROTA REHEARSAL 


al least in the field of education, which 1 know about, he did not 
try to manipulate it in a partisan way, he wasn’t a racist, he did his 
homework, and he was well or;ganlzed. He was an administrator 
in the sense that he set the pKtltcics and directions and chose good 
people to cany them out.” 

Besides his effectiveness in applying pressure on legislators by 
going to the people (a technique he said he learned from FDR) 
via television, Reagan, after his difficult first years in Sacramento, 
discovered the value of a provision of California law giving the 
Governor a “line item” veto power. It enabled him not only to 
scuttle individual spending proposals, which had been approved 
by the Legislature, if he didn’t like them, but also to reduce spend- 
ing on individual items. One of the keys to his success in Sacra- 
mento, this law gave him a potent power, which he will not have 
as President, to shape programs and deal with uncooperative 
legislators. In all, during the eight years in Sacramento, he used 
his veto 994 times. 

Reagan frequently came under criticism in the press for seem- 
ing to have a shallow understanding of some issues, a result of 
misstatements at news conferences; bis slip-ups appeared to reflect 
his style of running California, with his tendency to delegate au- 
thority to subordinates and rely on the four-paragraph “mini 
memos” to gather information he used in making decisions. His 
aides, however, defended his reliance on the mini memos as an ef- 
fective management tool. "Some people joked about them,” said 
Caspar Weinberger, who served Reagan as State Director of Fi- 
nance and was later Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare 
under President Nixon, "but they were backed up by more infor- 
mation. The Governor sought out more information when he 
needed it. The memos were a very effective way to take a large 
problem and present a kind of distillation of it that focused the 
discussion. Then the Governor would apply his own Judgment to 
the problem,” 

Reagan was also atiacied by leaders of orgaitrred ethaic {ah' 
norities for neglecting the poor, for attempting to curtail spending 
on mental hospitals and trying to impose more control from Sac- 


45 



CALIFORNU REHEARSAL. 


Proposition 13, he led an effort to place a similar, if less sweeping, 
property tax limitation law before the state’s voters. The measure 
lost after a bitter campaign in which public employees spent heav- 
ily to defeat it. But Reagan bad anticipated the rising public anger 
over taxes that would boil over as Proposition 13. 

In a 1968 interview with James Reslon of The New York 
Times, he said: “I am convinced that there is a wave sweeping the 
land that started in 1966. A wave of desire for a change, dissatis- 
faction on the part of the people over what’s been going on, a feel- 
ing that many of the programs that were bom with such promise 
have not bom fruit." The same year, in a speech to the Economic 
Club of New York, he said; “At the moment, there appears to be a 
panic fear afloat in the air, partly due to a feeling of helplessness, 
a feeling that government is now a separate force beyond their 
control, that their voices echo uiUieeded in the vast and multitudi- 
nous balls of government. I do not remember a time when so 
many Americans, regardless of their economic or social standing, 
have been so suspicious and apprehensive of the aims, the cred- 
ibility, and the competence of the Federal establishment. There is 
a question abroad in the land: ’What is happening to us?’ " 

As a day-to-day manager and decision-maker in Sacramento, 
Reagan patterned his style largely after the chairman of a corpo- 
ration who, most days, got to his office shortly before nine in the 
morning and left a little before six at night. He delegated consid- 
erable authority to subordinates and tended to avoid getting in- 
volved in the details of problem-solving, hearing out his subordi- 
nates’ recommendations and then making his decision based on 
their advice, usually through a mechanism called a “mini memo," 
a one-page, four-paragraph summary of a problem and his staffs 
recommendations on how to solve it. 

His style occasionally brought criticism. John P. Sears, who 
managed his presidential campaign in 1976 and was in charge in 
1980 until Reagan fired him early in the year, made some obser- 
valions about tiis tormer doss liran arttwlr 

ington Post after his dismissal: “If his advisers are adequate, there 



CACJFORNIA REHEARSAL 


serious scandals ever touched his California administration. In all, 
more than 200 business people were brought into state govern- 
ment by Reagan, most of them on short-term “task forces” to 
recommend ways to improve government efficiency. 

Tuttle and his associates began scouting for possible recruits 
for the Reagan presidential administration early in 1980. 

Long afler he left Sacramento, a debate would continue over 
the Reagan years in California. His supporters would say that his 
record speaks for itself; that he had run an administration that was 
efiicient, slowed the growth rate of government, and left the state 
in solid financial condition. Some of his critics would describe 
him as a man who is often unable to grasp the nuances of a com- 
plex problem and who, after all, is still a performer — the actor 
turned after-dinner speaker. 

Jn 1975, bis predecessor. Pet Sroiw?, mote: “J nvtiid aihw 
that Ronald Reagan is undoubtedly a sincere man. I also believe 
that he is in reality what he appears to be: a simple man. His 
ideas, his philosophy, his perceptions, his comprehension of 
human affairs and society are also neatly confined to a simple 
framework of thought and action that permits no doubts and ac- 
knowledges no sobering complexities. No wonder his manner is 
that of a man with utter confidence in his own fundamentalist 
purity and integrity. The efficient missionary dedicated to eradi- 
cating evil.” 

But Brown argued that life was seldom as simple as it was de- 
fined to be by Reagan. “Long before the computer took over our 
everyday affairs, Reagan was being ‘programmed’ by writers and 
directors, molded by producers and sold by promotion and pub- 
licity men. Small wonder he still finds it easy to absorb and adopt 
the thinking of the people around him and that he is most com- 
fortable with the healthy, the successful, and the self-assured — a 
mirror image of Reagan as he sees lumself.” 


49 



IV 


On the Supply Side 

Leonard Silk 


Ronald Reagan's domesUc economic policy for the four years 
ahead remains something of a mystery. This is not because Rea* 
gan has managed, or even tried, to keep his economic views secret. 
On the contrary, his conservative program, however broadly 
stated, has been central to bis drive for the President, and has 
been thoroughly exposed. The real problem at this point is that 
Rcaganite economics consists of an inchoate set of numbers, goals, 
and doctrines (some cautiously conservative, some radically con- 
servative) whose ultimate concrete form will depend on tests of 
strength between factions in his own party, conflicts between his 
administration and Congress, and Mr. Reagan's resolution of his 
own inner conflicts. 

On the economic front, the Reagan drive to the White House 
was powered by two quite diflerent types of conservatives. One 
was a group of conservative "populists” whose main objective (in 
the spirit of the California Proposition 13 tax revolt) was to slash 
taxes, eliminate government programs except in the defense area, 
slash government regulation, and release the energies of private 


51 


REAGAN THE MAN, THE PRESIDENT 

individuals and private business. This group of populists — and 
the politicians and economists who sought to give their desires co- 
herence and a rationale in economic theory — was dominated by 
small- and medium-sized business, farmers, homeowners, reti- 
rees. white-collar and even many blue-collar workers; “Middle 
.Americans," many of them with scant sympathy for those below 
them (especially those on welfare) nor much sympathy toward Big 
Business. Indeed, many in this populist group have regarded Big 
Business, and its internationally oriented institutions such as the 
Trilateral Commission or the Council on Foreign Relations, as a 
kind of conspiracy designed to serve the interests of multinational 
corporations rather than that of America. (Earlier in the cam- 
paign. George Bush resigned from the Council on Foreign Rela- 
tions to ward off such attacks.) 

Hut, within the Reagan camp, particularly after he had se- 
cured his hold on the nomination, were these very representatives 
of Big Business and Dig Finance, and their professional economic 
counsellors, who constitute the Republican Establishment. The 
thinking of this group, though not in clear conflict with that of the 
{wpnlists on every issue, %v.as focused primarily on the importance 
of checking inflation, stimulating corporate investment, presers- 
ing lire stability of the international monetary system, balancing 
the budget, rcstr.aining monetary growth — and ensuring the 
f t.'sbility. rather than rapid grow th, of the domestic economy. 



ONTHESUPPLYSIDE 

He has sough, to ^may the 

Frauklm D. Roosevelt, and lus IM „jj Depression. 

■•Carter Depression” as is"o. in a depression; 

Obviously, the American eco ^ ^ January, almost cer 

indeed, the 1980 recession, ^ ^ ,echm- 

tainly ended in the third quartcr.^”^ C},==n- 

calty, efforts by Reagans president Gerald R 

span, die former chief f Institute, to explam to 

Ford, and Martin Anderson, ofthcHoo ^ 

Reagan that the economy ^ , „„ behind his use of the 

downswing- did no. touch the ma p T economy under 

distortions which of =“8ua.in8 pn>du«.on 

of “stagflation — tha -nd uncer- 

pnse can be ^jih rising convert to the 

rate of economic gr uy that made ^ ^ Professor Arthur 

I,wasthisph.losoJy'J^„,t edvisers as 
“supply-side “ ef southern Representative 

La^er of die « " r yhe .Pu» V. Roth, 

former editonal ^ York; and Kemp- 

Jack Kemp of «P ^n ga« bis hearty percent through 

of Delaiv-'; income .«es by „ e 

"■rrs " serrs"- • ■ - 

curve “ named 

~ 53 



ONTHESUPPI.VS'DE 

,0 be carried out would have to go „ore 

The Reagan-dommated ^ ”L^d„elopment of the MX 

••survivable” nuclear m.«i efoi«,eaJ „f a new 

nussile, accelerated „ „cotiLed Carter for aban- 

manned B-1 '”!“tSystetn. strategic cruise missdes 

donin5),amod=mueda.rdefe^ e«ed 

and other strategic weapons. The P 

the nuUtary .draft of -a"!"*'' " “ ,„d benef.ts of career 

for “correcting the great inequiues tn p y 

miUtary personnel." buildup will cost is unclear, but 

How much Reagan s „p=nditutes, exclud- 

i, appears likely to mean , yU if it were to be 

tag the effect of inllation, by ’ “ ’ P' ^ j/ukely to lift the cost 

fulyrealired. If one assumes that mn^^ ,b« 

of Lional defense by ® nditures to a 'ange of $3W 

would mean ‘“"'“‘"S '* 'or, f,„rthe fiscal 1981 level of $159 
billion to $320 billion by 1985 from n 

billion, roughly doubUng them m foua« ,„,bot in m^- 

George P. Shulu said m an mt immune from scru- 

October that the defense budget wou^ stressed that 

tiny for the y^Ung as the strengthening of Unite 

was so vital, in Reagans thinking. 

States defense capabilities. encompassed wnhio 

How can this huge defend bu Id p e^ountmg to $250 

budget plan which also hwl-des h“Se 

biUion to $300 billion by fiscal^. which Reaga" 

Solving that budgetary nddle wa ^ shulB 

conservative economic advBcrs-the o 8 „ National 

and Alan Greenspan - '“'‘'1’"' Reagan was not being 

Convention. They sought to pro ojcatly increase defense 

sponsible in suggesting that he co“U _ and still balance 

penditures and cut takes by about h 

the budget and slow down inflatio ^ September 9. 1 - 

The fruits of their labor were aud Stab y 

as "Ronald Reagan’s Strategy for Econom 


57 


IN THE BEGINNING 




ihow»JohnE..ndNclUW.l.onR‘»^^^4_,,|J AI^«8 

Reigin w»s boro »n T»mp»« ^ umesdon"*^ . yj_- (iVidt World) 

»lcoholism»ndthef*m»ly h „ jj p„^Toa S»»y* 

childhood «s “one of ihose r»r 


HOLUYV.OOD 


•Jai? Of't firr lb*: Cipher'"; P-or. Rraps otilocatior^ droicd fc? cr.ccf hn fc<i!rf*lr.<Mi»nrj!r; 
foVi. \hr d>:nf fcvotbiilatir Gto.'rf G:p? in Krutf Fc^-lnr, Alr^Arrmtc*', fU tdr Wc^Ui 




*Twemieth Century Adonit' Reafaa ««< (o Uubbolts Wt^ bvetx PivmpnofFtne Art e al 
the Univtriity cf Southern *lwo be not Mhovint the most neitny perfcS**'''^ * 

cnile/Sgure Here he poretfar Pfotew MetTelC«(e*ncJ){XBr?ch ^^^??/ "-»^;{J **| y 

Finni Role (n f942. Ronald Reagan ttarred in A?ii?^fenda^ilau«Bu>>>B..i~iia. 

ID ef the bnt perforniinen of hi5 arlint career (4^} 






LONGTIMf: FRIENDS AND BACKERS 






J«ci Wr»»hcr. 62, is one of the youniest of 
Reagm'i Jonjiime fnendi * nd baclm He met 
Reagan through hu wife, Bonita Granville, a 
formtr rhild star who worked with Reagan in 
one of her films His company. The Wrather 
Corporation, is a muliiroiUion-dolUr com- 
hiMlioo ofoil, entertainment, and real estate 
Wrather u. perhaps the most daring entre- 
preoeurofthegroup When asked what role he 
wouldplayasaReaganadmimsirationadviser, 
hf repJred, “JVJ he a good friend, Tve tlwsys 
Uttil to be “ (The S'tw fork Times) 


Earle M Jorgensen, B2, is the active cbairman 
of (he tteel company he founded at the age of 
twenty-three— one of the few major American 
steel companies prospering today. A close 
personal friend of Reagan's, he ti a pragfluiw: 
businessman whose motto is 'Hustle*— that's 
aJJ Tmet) 




Holinei F Tuiile, 7J, began his career as an 
automobite salesman in Lot Angeles and first 
met Reagan in 1946 when he sold him a car A 
h'ghiysueensfulandwell-regardedpilMrofihe 
California tinanctai eommuniiy Tuttle has 
hecn an active political supporter of Reagan 
since 1964 Tuttle, along with Oart. it con- 
sideied to be Reagan's closest confidant from 
the world of big butinett (The Ntm Tort 


William French Smith, 62, the other junior 
member of the group, is a highly successful 
senior partner with one of the two largest taw 
firms in Los Angeles Smith has known 
Reagan since before bis 1966 campaign for 
Governor and u his personal attorney The 
director of silt California companies. Smith is 
one of the three trustees of Reagan's business 
interests and is as strongly groundetl m 
business as he is in law (Wide World) 





INTOCALIFORNJA POLITICS 


Opposilt page, top 

Piily Unity As Republican gubem««»n*>caiMl«l»t*,Ile*j»n,then-SenstotC«orjeMurphy. 
and former V«e-PrtfideniRiebardNu<x»eo{3gejD» three-way handshake before walkingio 
(he platform of a 1966 California Republican Pany victory dinner (if PI} 


Opposite page, boitopt 

The Winner' Reagan green lupponer* as be acknowledges hit victory as Governor of 
California over tvko-ierm incumbent Edmund G (Pai) Brown ftfiife K'orfii) 


CaMortiia Governor Reagan leads the way as grand marshal of a Veteran's Day parade in 
Oregon (AP) 


RONALD REAG^'^/LEE 
^ HE MMINCWAYf^^'^AMED ^ Li 




THf. governor 













ONTUESUPPLYSIDE 


growth”; (4) ‘The establishment of a stable and sound monetary 
poli^”; and (5) “The restoration of confidence by following a 
consistent national economic policy that docs not change from 
month to month.” 

But the details of the strategic plan do not back up this strong, 
adjectival rhetoric. The control of the growth of Federal spending 
to “reasonable, prudent” levels would depend on the elimination 
of many billions of dollars in unspecified waste and fraud. “The 
reports of waste, extravagance, abuse, and outright fraud,” ac- 
cording to the Reagan plan, “are legendary." This waste, it assert- 
ed, lies buried "deep in hundreds of Federal programs” and it will 
take a sustained effort lasting years to extract it. 

Afier the signal failure of Jimmy Carter’s elaborate experi- 
ment with “zero-base budgeting” to produce significant savings — 
and the more than doubling of expenditures in California under 
Reagan's Governorship, with annual state expenditures climbing 
from S4.6 billion to $ 10.2 billion despite his promise to “cut and 
squeeze and trim” — there is widespread skepticism that Reagan 
can reduce Federal spending by scores of billions of dollars by 
eliminating waste, fat, and fraud. 

Reagan has stressed that he does not mean to hold down Fed- 
eral spending by eliminating programs. In the televised debate 
with President Carter on October 28, Reagan, when asked where 
he would cut government spending if be were to increase defense 
spending and also cut taxes, said, “Well, most people when they 
think about cutting government spending, they think in terms of 
eliminating necessary programs or wiping out something, some 
service that government is supposed to perform. I believe that 
there is enough extravagance and fat in government. As a matter 
of fact, one of the Secretaries of H.E.W, under Mr. Carter testified 
that he thought there was S7 billion worth of fraud and waste in 
welfare, and in the medical programs associated with it. We’ve 
had the General Accountiag Office estimate that there are prob- 
ably tens of billions of dollars lost in fraud alone, and they have 
added that waste adds even more to that.” 


S9 



ONTHESUPPLYSIDE 


rules requiring more highway construction work for minority and 
women subcontractors.* 

There were other equally controversial proposals submitted to 
the task force: raising the ages at which Social Security benefits 
would be payable, revising the consumer price index to produce 
lower inflation figures, cutting welfare payments by using FBI 
“strike forces" to look for welfare fraud and by giving stales a 
cash bounty for convicting welfare cheaters, giving states freedom 
to design and run their own welfare systems, and reducing or 
eliminating Federal safety requirements on automakers. None of 
these proposals has yet been accepted by Reagan. 

He has, however, announced that he will call for an immedi- 
ate freeze on the level of Federal employment. But President Car- 
ter already had such a freeze in effect months earher. Caspar 
Weinberger said the Reagan freeze on Federal hinng would be 
“more efTectiye” than Carter's had been. 

The central logic underlying (he Reagan fiscal strategy is the 
assumption that the tax revenues of the Federal government will, 
as a result of infiatioR and real economic growth, increase enor- 
mously over the next five years, while expenditures are held well 
below the grotv-th of revenues. Hence, it is argued, huge tax cuts 
can still be made consistent with movement toward a balanced 
budget — and even sizable budget surpluses by 1 9S5. 

As a base for their planning, the Republican strategists take 
the Senate Budget Committee estimates of a rate of real economic 
growth of 1 to 3.8 percent in the next five years, an inflation rate 
that declined slowly to 7.5 percent by 1985, and an unemployment 
rate that comes down to 6.i percent by that year. On those as- 
sumptions, the Senate committee estimated that the revenue of the 
Federal government would rise to SI, 102 billion by fiscal year 
1985, an increase of $58-4 billion over the fiscal 1980 level. Then, if 
Federal outlays were held to an increase of $920 billion by 1985, 
the budget would show a surplus orSI82 billion in that year. But 
is this likely to happenTExpemiiturcs may not de rieih’abwn; ide 


' 77ie iValf Street Journaf.OcL 24, t98Q,p I. 


61 



ON THE SUPPLY SIDE 


fiscal 1^80 to $27 billion in 1981 and S6 billion in 1982; and it 
foresees budget surpluses of $23 billion in 1983, $62 billion in 
1984,andS121 billion in provided thatihe Reagan adminis- 
tration fully achieves its spending-reduction goal of 10 percent. If it 
achieves only its partial goal for spending reduction of 7 percent, 
however, it still projects budget deficits of only $27 billion and $2 1 
billion in 1981 and 1982 respectively, a balanced budget in 1983, 
and surpluses of $28 billion and $93 billion in 1984 and 1985, re- 
spectively. 

Will the Reagan dontesiic economic policy of steep tax cuts 
and expenditure holddowns work to revive the United States 
economy while reducing inflation? 

The assumptions on which Reagan^s plan is based are so un- 
certain that any economic analysis of his proposed strategy must 
be regarded as little better than an educated guess. However, the 
consensus view of forty-two leading e<»nomic forecasters, includ- 
ing those of some of the nation's largest businesses, banks, and 
econometric forecasting services, is that Reagan's proposed tax 
cuts are excessive and would be likely to “further fuel inflation,” 
as Eggert Economic Enterprises, Inc., summarized the consensus 
resulting from its survey. 

The economists surveyed by Eggert also criticized the vague- 
ness of Reagan’s plans for cutting government spending by 7 per- 
cent to 10 percent by eliminating “waste and fraud.” They were 
skeptical that he would come close to balancing his budget if he 
stuck to his plans for greatly increasing defense spending while 
steeply cutting taxes. 

Analysis of the Reagan plan of September 9 by Chase Econo- 
metrics, the forecasting subsidiary of the Chase Manhattan Bank, 
found that the plan, if realized, would make unemployment “sig- 
nificantly higher” and would have “little or no impact on produc- 
tivity, investment or real economic growth.” However, Chase 
Econometrics found that the Reagan program would have some 


' See Table I below. 


6S 



effecl in bringing down the rale of inflation, primarily through its 
cuts in government spending — assuming, of course, that the ad- 
vertised cuts of $64 billion to $92 billion were to be realized in the 
next four years. 

The Chase analysis found that, if the Reagan plan were to be 
implemented, teal gross national product — the economy's total 
output of goods and services, adjusted for inflation — would rise 
by only one-tenth of 1 percent in 1981, and by about 3 percent an- 
nually thereafter through 1985.* Inflation would be 9 percent in 
1981 and would come down gradually to 7.1 percent in 1985. But 
unemployment would reach 8.9 percent in 1981 and hang on at a 
9 percent rale, reaching 9.2 percent in 1985. This implies that the 
number of jobless workers would mcrease from 9.5 million in 
1981 to 10.5 million in 1985, as the work force continued to grow. 

Econometrics being the uncertain science it is — and the Rea- 
gan plan being as vague as it is — no one should take the Chase 
analysis or any other too literally. And if one changed the assump- 
tions in the Reagan plan — for instance, by assuming that while 
President Reagan might get most of the tax cuts he sought, he 
would achieve hardly any of the muUibillion-doIlar expenditure 
reductions he is proposing — the outlook would be for greater 
inflation and less unemployment. 

However, Reagan’s supply-side economists and politicians 
contend that conventional economic analysis underestimates the 
impact of his economic strategy and free-enterprise philosophy on 
individual and business incentives, efforts, and confidence. They 
say it will make an enormous difference to real growth to get gov- 
ernment off the back of the private economy. The Reagan plan 
calls for "a thorough and systematic review of the thousands of 
Federal regulations that affect the economy,” contending that in 


> Tbe R«Agaa estincles, as set forth ut the strategic plan for growth aod subduy 
of September 9, 1980. themselves prefect that the program of tax cuts, growing to 
a total of 1192 billion by fiscal >ear 1983. would ^d only S39 billion to nominal 
GNP in that year. The additional economic growth resulting from the fiscal 
stimulus io the preceding years is csiinuted by the Reagan advisen as SS biUioa 
tn 1981, SIO bilhoQ in 1982. SIS tnllioo in 1983. and S20 billioQ in 1984 See 



ONTHE SUPPLY SIDE 


uncertainty about the future actions of government. In a Reagan 
administration, every effort will be made to establish and begin to 
implement economic policy early — within the first ninety days — 
and then to stick to the essentials of this polii^.” 

One of the first actions President Reagan is likely to lake on 
assuming office wiU be to send a tax package to Congress recom- 
mending an imn\ediaie 10 percent cut in personal income tax 
rates, the first installment of a 30 percent reduction over three 
years, as specified in the Kemp-Roih bill. He will surely include in 
the package other proposals to redu<^ taxes on business. 

It seems probable that Congress, already prepared to cut taxes 
on its own by some S39 billion In fiscal 19S1, would go along with 
the first-year part of the Reagan plan. But thereafter Reagan is 
likely to have a much harder row to hoe with Congress on both 
taxes and spending, not only because Democrats will still be in the 
majority in the House but also because proposed spending cuts 
are bound to provoke strong opposition from particular constitu- 
encies. Furthermore, excessive tax cutting, leading to worse 
budget deficits, would probably be resisted by Congress as infia- 
tlonary. 

To be sure, Reagan himself is no inflationist. The strongest 
single economic plank in the Reagan-dominated Republican 
Party platform was its denunciation of inflation and its attack on 
President Carter for aggravating inflation during his four-year 
term. Reagan could adduce ample justification of modifying the 
tax and spending components of bis program, should these later 
be found to conflict with the objectives of balancing the budget 
and checking inflation. 

Pragmatism — defined as a willingness to depart from an 
earlier course, as required by political circumstances — is a well- 
established Reagan trait. As Governor of California, not only did 
he more than double slate expenditures, as we have noted, but he 
presided over three major tax increases. These were large enough, 
however, to yield budget surpluses, and he gave back part of the 
surpluses through tax reductions and rebates. John Schmitz, a 



OH'mESUm.YSlDE 


whether it would cure or worsen inflation. Earlier Reagan enter- 
tained the idea of trying to solve the inflation problem by return- 
ing to the gold standard, but such advisers as George Shultz, Alan 
Greenspan, and Milton Friedman appear to have convinced him 
that the idea is far too risky. Inflation at a fairly high rate, at least, 
appears to lie ahead. Indeed, Reagan's fiscal plan depends on ac- 
cepting a fairly high rate of inflation — in the 8 to 10 percent 
range — to achieve the tax cuts and budget balance be seeks. He is 
bound to have great difilculty in gelling the “comprehensive” pro- 
gram be wants through Congress and through the resistances of 
various interest groups in the four years ahead. 

Post-election realism will probably force President Reagan 
and bis close aides to adjust their program — which has served its 
essential purpose of selling the Republican Party’s candidate to 
the nation — to less risky proportions. If the program is not 
trimmed, especially in the huge tax cuts it has advertised, the na- 
lion may be in for an exciting adventure in economic policy-mak- 
ing — with a markedly diminished role for the Federal govern- 
ment, and a seriously worsened budgetary and inflationary 
problem. 


69 



V 


Free Trader 


Leonard Silk 


Ronald Reagan’s overall approach to international economic 
policy is an extension of his domestic economic philosophy. That 
is: an aversion to government interference with free private enter- 
prise and free markets. Thus, he favors free trade as a way to pro- 
vide greater opportunities for American business abroad, benefits 
for consumers at home, and a check to inflation. 

But Reagan is also a praciicaJ poUticiaa who is likely to be re- 
sponsive to pressure groups making a strong and insistent case 
that they are being injured by free trade and foreign competition. 
The likelihood is that, in a crunch, Reagan’s political pragmatism 
would win out over his free-trade ideology. He has already 
hedged his position carefully. When asked whether he would im- 
pose limits on the importation of such goods as automobiles and 
steel that are blamed for causing unemployment in the United 
Slates, be said; “I would not want to resort to protectionism. That 
kind of protectionism leads to retaliation. But I think the Presi- 
dent could tell other countries, ’Look, we believe in free trade; but 
we also believe in fair trade. Now, you've got to play the game 


71 



FREETRADER 


indusiry and the United Auto Workers to restrict imports of for- 
cigo — especially Japanese — cars and trucks, Reagan during the 
campaign reiterated his opposition to quotas on imports, declar* 
ing, “By inducing retaliation by our trade partners, quotas could 
deprive American workers of valuable foreign markets and re- 
duce, rather than increase, demand for American-made cars.’' 

He did not, however, reject the idea of some help to the 
American auto industry. He proposed a moratorium on future 
regulations and a review of existing regulations on autos, new tax 
breaks to encourage retooling for the production of small cars, 
and repeal of Federal gasoline allocation rules which, he contend- 
ed, have in the past led to gasoline tines and a drop in the demand 
for U-S. autos. 

The growth of iniemaiional trade since World War II, says 
Reagan, has helped to improve the living standards of all the trad- 
ing partners. “One of the best ways to promote economic growth 
in the future,” be adds, “is to continue to expand our trade with 
other nations.” He emphasizes that American exports provide 
one-sixth of all private-sector jobs in the United States. He means 
to safeguard or expand the number of those jobs, not by excluding 
imports, but by increasing American access to foreign markets. He 
inveighs against countries that “impose barriers to our exports and 
unfairly subsidize their own industries,” and has promised to 
work to prevent such unfair trade practices from penalizing 
American producers. But he believes it “far better serves our own 
interests, and those of the world, to aggressively pursue a reduc- 
tion in foreign nations’ trade barriers rather than to erect more 
barriers of our own.” 

Reagan has committed himself to a policy of vigorous export 
promotion. As President, he means to press foreign leaders to 
open their countries up more freely to American goods. “In my 
meetings with other heads of state,” he has said, “I would be a 
strong advocate for the sale of our commodities in foreign coun- 
tries, giving those trade questions the kind of direct personal presi- 
dential thrust they deserve.” Reagan urges commodity producers 
across the United States to leam from “the excellent example of 


n 



FREETRADER 


sioD, iaflalion, and balance-of-payments weakness, all of which 
have been inteastfied by the chronic squeeze on oil supplies and 
prices by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries. 
Holdmg the fort against such powerful impulses toward protec- 
tionism will be one of the great tasks facing President Reagan. 

If the Reagan administration is to hold to liberal trade poli- 
cies, it will have to pursue domestic policies for spurring economic 
growth, both at home and internationally. Reagan's support for 
free trade is therefore closely linked to his proposed “supply-side” 
tax cuts for increasing incentives and productivity and for raising 
the level of national savings and investment. 

The United States emerged from World War II as the strong- 
est economy in the world by far and the national leader of the 
non-Communist nations. It assumed the mission of helping its 
war-damaged allies, as well as it enemies, Japan and Germany, to 
rebuild their shattered econonxies. This mission was considered 
not one of pure altruism but of enlightened self-interest. But what 
went wrong? Why did the United States lose ground, as other 
countries strengthened? 

One major reason is that stronger investment efforts enabled 
the industrial countries, especially Japan and West Germany, to 
achieve greater technological progress than the United States. 
Since 1960, domestic investment as a percentage of gross national 
product ran at annual rates of only 16 to 18 percent in the United 
States compared with 32 to 34 percent in Japan and 22 percent to 
27 percent in West Germany. Indeed, the United States fer the 
past two decades has had the lowest domestic investment rate of 
any major industrial nation. 

The Reagan fiscal poU^ is designed to change that situation, 
and thereby to restore the productivity and competitiveness of 
United States industry in the world economy. Hence, confronted 
by sharp criticism of many traditionally conservative economists 
of his tax proposals, which they warned would exacerbate infla- 
tion, Reagan has not wavered from his support of the Kemp- Roth 
bill to reduce Federal income taxes by 30 percent during the flrst 
three years of his admioistratioa. In addition, be means to press 


75 



REAGAN THE MAN, THE PRESIDENT 

Congress to provide other tax cuts for business, especially faster 
write-offs of investment in new plant, equipment and motor vehi-- 
cles. 

But Reagan hopes to combine such fiscal stimulus, urged by 
the “supply-siders” in his camp, such as Representative Jack 
Kemp of upstate New York, Senator William V, Roth, Jr., of 
Delaware, and Professor Arthur Laffer of the University of South- 
ern California, with the more cautious fiscal and monetary ap- 
proach of such Republican economic stalwarts as Alan Green- 
span, George P. Shultz, Arthur F. Burns, and — perhaps most in- 
fluential of all — Professor Milton Friedman, the Nobel laureate. 
In giving the top policy role to this latter group, the “old guard,” 
however, Reagan has still insisted that fiscal and monetary cau- 
tion be combined with the stimulus preached by his “supply- 
siders” or “populists.” 

Reagan’s two sets of economic advisers, the old guard and the 
populists, differ not only on domestic but on international mone- 
tary policy. The populists favor a return to the gold standard, with 
fixed exchange rates between the dollar (and other currencies) and 
gold, while the old guard warns that such a return to the gold 
standard would be extremely hazardous in the present worldwide 
inflationary environment. 

Asked in the spring of 1980 whether he was seriously consid- 
ering a return to the gold standard, Reagan replied: “Yes, I know 
it would be complicated to go back to a gold standard as such, but 
I am looking at a de facto gold standard. Suppose the United 
States set a date and said we are going to mint a coin based on the ' 
value of gold at that time. Once people realized they could take 
paper dollars and buy a gold coin of the same face value, they 
probably wouldn’t bother to, and it would stabilize the value of 
the dollar.” This Reagan reasoning was apparently picked up 
from a memo by Professor Laffer. As an ex-actor, Reagan seems 
inclined to reel off scripts that have been given to him and that he 
has learned, but frequently appears not to have gone in with un- 
derstanding beyond the words of the script. 


76 



FREETRADER 


Until late in the 1980 political campaign, Reagan unquestion- 
ably still was satisfied to go along with those economic advisers 
who had been calling for a return to the gold standard. He accept- 
ed, though without fully committing himself, their contention that 
the return to gold would bring stability to the international mone- 
tary system and would help stop innation at home. As George 
Shultz, a champion of flexible exchange rates — indeed, it was he 
who negotiated them during the Nixon administration — agrees, 
Reagan remains seriously interested in the possibility of an even- 
tual return to gold. The conservative economists of the old guard, 
such as Shultz, who strongly favored flexible exchange rates, ap- 
parently succeeded in convincing Reagan that since Americans 
could buy and sell gold freely, and since gold owners, public or 
private, were free to turn gold into coins, in effect we were already 
close to being back on a gold standard. Meanwhile, it would be 
too risky to try to formalize a fixed-race exchange system. 

Reagan’s support for gold found its way into the Republican 
Party platform, in a clause adopted unanimously by the twenty- 
ftve-member subcommittee on flscal and monetary affairs chaired 
by Senator Roth. Although the clause did not mention the word 
“gold,” it might well have, since it declared: “The severing of the 
dollar’s link with real commodities in the 1960s and 1970s, in 
order to pursue economic goals other than dollar stability, has un- 
leashed hyperinflationary forces at home and monetary disorder 
abroad, without bringing any of the desired economic benefits. 
One of the most urgent economic tasks in the period ahead will be 
the restoration of the dependable monetary standard — that is, an 
end to inflation.” 

However, in the final phase of the election campaign, Reagan 
dowmplayed his commitment to a return to the gold standard. He 
seemingly accepted the logic of Greenspan, Shultz, and Friedman 
that it would be too risky to "put the cart before the horse” by 
trying to impose a gold standard and fixed rales of exchange upon 
ihe United Slates and other naitoas before world price stability 
had been achieved. The old guard contended that fixing the dollar 
at loo high a price in terms of gold would make American goods 


77 



REAGAN THE MAN, THE PRESIDENT 

uncompetitive in world markets while setting the dollar’s rate too 
low would result in a massive outflow of United States gold; and 
possibly, as Greenspan warned, “the loss of all the gold in Fort 
Knox overnight.” The result of such warnings appears to have 
been a cooling of Reagan’s zeal for an early return to gold, but 
without dissuading him of its ultimate desirability. It now seems 
highly improbable that Reagan as President would press for going 
back to the gold standard, as long as his top advisers include such 
men as Greenspan, Shultz, and Friedman. 

Reagan’s elevation of old guard economists to the primary 
role in his administration, together with his choice of George 
Bush, the moderate Republican (earlier denounced by Reagan 
supporters as a representative of the “Eastern Liberal Establish- 
ment”) suggests that Reagan means to be pragmatic and to play 
“coalition politics” in the White House, while seeking to retain the 
support of Republican right-wingers, many of whom ardently de- 
sire a return to the gold standard. 

But he now seems certain to avoid precipitating action on gold 
that might produce a crisis for the dollar and the world monetary 
system. He would face grave difficulties in persuading other coun- 
tries to go along with any plan to rigidly fix exchange rates. As Dr. 
Otmar Emminger, the former president of the West German 
Bunderfaank, has observed, floating exchange rates — rates that 
are free to move up and down with the supply and demand for 
currencies — have permitted the growth in world trade, despite 
worldwide inflationary disorder and the energy crisis. Floating 
rates have helped to curb protectionism and have enabled several 
major countries to eliminate capital controls. These are all goals 
that Reagan himself favors. In addition, Emminger notes, where 
attempts have been made to stabilize exchange rates with diver- 
gent inflation rates, as in the case of the European Monetary Sys- 
tem, inflation has been worsened, with the high rates of price in- 
crease in some countries transmitted to countries with lower rates 
of inflation. The reason is that the flight of money from high- 
inflation to low-inflation countries tends to expand the money 
supply in the low-inflation countries and thereby drives up prices. 


FREETRADER 


Opposition nowadays to fixed exchange rates, which is the 
real meaning and core of a gold standard, is by no means only a 
conservative view of economists such as Oimar Emmingcr or Mil- 
ton Friedman, but is a position just as strongly held by such lib- 
eral economists as Professor Paul A. Samuelson, another Nobel 
Prize winner. Professor James Tobin, and other leading economic 
advisers to Democratic administrations. 

The Reagan administration's foreign economic policy will be 
closely linked to its foreign policy and national security objectives. 
Reagan seems more determined than President Carter was to put 
greater pressure on members of OPEC to moderate their price ac- 
tions and to invest their surplus earnings in (he poor oil-importing 
countries of the Third World, if they arc to expect continued 
United States economic, technical, and military support. He is 
also likely to be more aggressive in pressing Europe and Japan for 
their backing of a more determined United States effort to insure 
Western access to energy supplies in the Middle East and other 
OPEC countries. 

The United States' allies might regard a more aggressive Rea- 
gan foreign and economic policy as excessively nationalisUc and 
potentially dangerous to their own interests. The problem facing 
President Reagan will be to reconstruct a more forceful United 
States foreign economic and defense policy that will avoid shock- 
ing the Western alliance into still worse disarray. 

Both by the evidence of his own public remarks and the judg- 
ment of advisers who have worked closely with him, Ronald Rea- 
gan lacks depth or detailed knowledge of economic affairs. How- 
ever, his record as Governor of California suggests that he will be 
willing to appoint competent officers and give them the scope and 
authority to get the job done. It is therefore important, in trying to 
assess the likely economic policies of a Reagan administration, to 
go beyond Reagan’s own statements to those of his key advisers. 
That task has been facilitated by the publication by the Hoover 
Institution of a thick volume, “The United States in the 1980s,” to 


79 



REAGAN THE MAN, THE PRESIDENT 

which twenty-three experts, many of whom are likely to serve the 
Reagan adnunistration, contributed. 

The principal chapter on foreign economic policy, written by 
Professor G. M. Meier of Stanford University, stresses that Ameri- 
can foreign economic policy must foster trade liberalization, pro- 
mote guidelines for exchange-rate intervention by national gov- 
ernments, strengthen the role of private international finance, and 
expand opportunities for the exports of developing countries. 

The United States is urged to pursue close policy coordination 
with Europe, Japan, and the newly industrialized countries, and 
must operate in the context of a multipolar power structure. For- 
eign economic policy cannot avoid being shaped by the state of 
the domestic economy. Professor Meier observes, for unless infla- 
tion and unemployment can be lessened, pressures will mount for 
controls over foreign trade and capital movements. But, converse- 
ly, an open and competitive world economy can contribute much 
to domestic economic expansion. Reagan appears to have taken 
that lesson to heart. 

The disarray of the international economy has already had 
adverse effects on the United States economy, and the new Rea- 
gan administration will have to strive to pursue domestic eco- 
nomic goals of full employment and economic stability without 
external imbalance. Unfortunately, that goal today seems 'more 
distant than it was a decade ago. The temptations are greater — 
and stiU more dangerous — to resort to defensive economic na- 
tionalism, or an East-West or North-South confrontation. 

Professor Meier warns that there is always the danger that the 
regulation of international economic conduct will be abandoned 
either to simple unilateral action or to tests of bargaining power 
between nations. To avoid the dangers of nationalism and policy 
competition among nations, he urges better policy coordination. 
“In the last analysis,” he concludes, “not American foreign eco- 
nomic policy alone but policy coordination and supranational 
decision units will be required to reduce the tensions and conflicts. 
... In this wider approach to policymaking, more progress can 


80 


FREETRADER 


be made toward mtemational deregulation and the greater em- 
ployment of full and efficient use of global resources.” 

Increasing the supply and use of resources, both human and 
material, will be essential in the years ahead to prevent inflation 

— without resorting to the periodic spells of economic slump and 
high unemployment. In an increasingly closely integrated world 
economy, such policies for growth will have to be international in 
scope, for a single nation — even one as huge as the United States 

— that presses for expansion alone might wreck its balance of 
payments and currency, and thereby worsen its inflation. 

But can the United States and its partners learn to work to- 
gether in a way that is mutually beneficial, or will nation after na- 
tion be driven to adopt protectionist policies, ultimately causing 
the world economy to stagnate and disintegrate, as happened in 
the 1930s — with devastaung consequences for world peace? That 
is the Ufe-and-death issue that confronts President Reagan and his 
new administration. 

Reagan's commitment to increasing United States defense 
capabilities is presented by his foreign policy advisers not as a 
burden to the American economic performance but as a means of 
strengthening the United States economic role abroad. They con- 
tend that, unless the credibility of the United States as a powerful 
military ally, especially vis-a-vis the Soviet Union, is enhanced, 
countries in Western Europe and Asia will be progressively less 
willing to agree to economic and other concessions, to liberalize 
trade further, or to follow the United States’ lead in demanding 
reliable access to supplies of energy and raw materials. Lacking 
belief in American political and military power, according to the 
Reagan camp’s view, other countries would be reluctant to share 
the cost of collective defense and to regulate economic relations 
with the Communist and developing countries on a common basis 
with the United States. 

There is no question that Reagan gives paramount emphasis 
to strengthening the United States militarily, and shows no evi- 
dence of concern that high and rapidly rising defense expenditures 


81 



REAGAN THE MAN. THE PRESIDENT 

could weaken the American economic performance, by diverting 
resources from civilian uses, where they might strengthen Ameri- 
can productivity, to nlilitary uses, which could exacerbate infla- 
tionary pressures. 

The efforts of a Reagan administration to intensify United 
States and allied pressures on Communist, oil-producing, and 
Third World countries could risk' worsening U.S. relations not 
only with those blocs but also with Western Europe and Japan. 
Unless handled with remarkable skill, the United States’ allies 
might regard a more aggressive Reagan foreign and economic 
policy as excessively national. 


82 



VI 


Arms and the Man 

Richard Burt 


It wfts only ten o’clock in the morning, but (he senior aide in 
Jimmy Carter’s While House stumped down in his chair, tired and 
depressed. The date was April 25, 1980, and only three hours 
earlier, the President had made a brief announcement telling the 
nation that a daring mission to send Army commandos into Tehe- 
ran to rescue fifty-three American hostages bad ended in tragic 
failure somewhere in the Iranian desert. Many of the details sur- 
rounding the fiasco were still unclear, and the public had yet to 
view the scenes of the charred and twisted wreckage of American 
helicopters on the T.V. news. Nevertheless, the weary White 
House official expressed few doubts over what the political impact 
of the abortive rescue mission would be. “National defense has 
emerged as a bigger issue in 1980 than any campaign in recent his- 
tory, with Ronald Reagan and the other Republicans arguing that 
we have become a second-rate power. The rescue mission is going 
to convince a lot of folks that Reagan is right.” 

Serea montbs later, ibe White House aide's pcedictioa was 
borne out at the polls. And as he and his colleagues began updat- 

83 



REAGAN THE MAN. THE PRESIDENT 

ing their job resumes, a new team of national security specialists 
prepared to enter the government, all dedicated to restoring “a 
margin of safety” to the country’s defenses. At the Pentagon, there 
was undisguised jubilation among ranking military officers, who 
had let it be known during the campaign that they were disturbed 
about the state of American military readiness. On Wall Street, 
meanwhile, Reagan’s victory resulted in a surge in the prices of 
aircraft and other defense-related stocks. 

With hindsight, the election capped off a decade-long shift in 
public opinion toward defense spending and American military 
power. In the early 1970s, with the United States engaged in the 
painful process of disengaging from the Vietnam War, the defense 
budget declined for the first time since the 1950s. President Gerald 
Ford’s budget projections in 1976 called for large increases in 
militar y spending, but the voters chose Jimmy Carter, who had 
campaigned on the promise of slashing the Pentagon budget by at 
least S5 bUlion, a pledge he was never able to carry out, Reagan, 
on the other hand, campaigned hard on the theme of rebuilding 
the American military and was the beneficiary of a new national 
mood that was shaped not by Vietnam, but by the hostage crisis in 
Iran, the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, and turbulence in central 
America. 

In contrast to Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan is clearly com- 
fortable with military power. A veteran of World War II (he 
worked with the Culver City Commandos, the first motion picture 
unit of the Army Air Corps), Reagan believes, like many in his 
generation, that military strength is a prerequisite for peace. Hit- 
ler, the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, North Korea’s invasion 
of the south, aU of these could have been avoided had the United 
States and its allies kept their defenses m good order. Thus, there 
is little of the ambivalence about American military power that 
grew up during the Vietnam era and seemed to inform Jimmy 
Carter’s view of the world. A nuclear submariner. Carter com- 
bined an engineering approach to military problems with an al- 
most religious zeal for limiting the arms race with Moscow 
through negotiation. Reagan, on the other hand, is said by close 


84 



REAGAN THE MAN. THE PRESIDENT 

clear weapons to kill millions of Americans and Russians, the 
United States should aim at military targets in the Soviet Union in 
time of war, not civilians. 

9 Soviet military gains in Afghanistan, or tor that matter, in 
Eastern Europe, should not be accepted “as a permanent histori- 
cal fact,” according to the paper. 

^ Although the United States, on occasions, must depend on 
the military capabilities of allied countries to deter the Soviets, 
“the availability of allied support should not constrain American 
action in defense of its interests.” 

These are general guidelines, and it will take a few years to see 
whether a Reagan administration has made any progress in apply- 
ing them. In the meantime, Reagan and his defense team will con- 
front a host of more pressing, concrete military issues. Easily the 
most controversial (and costly) defense decision taken by Jimmy 
Carter was his approval of the MX mobile missile. Under the Car- 
ter plan, some 200 of the huge rockets, each equipped with ten 
multiple nuclear warheads, would be moved on giant trucks along 
a maze of roads to be built in remote sections of Utah and Neva- 
da. Interspersed along the roads would be 400 to 500 concrete 
shelters that could be used to fire the missiles. With each of the 
200 MX missiles either on the move or hidden within one of the 
concrete shelters, Moscow would be unable to pinpoint the loca- 
tion of the entire missile force and would thus be frustrated, in 
any crisis, from attempting a “first strike” attack. The Air Force 
wants to begin deploying the first MX missile by 1986, but the sys- 
tem is already under heavy attack from experts who claim it is un- 
workable as well as from local residents in Utah and Nevada who 
worry about its impact on the environment. 

Van Cleave and other senior Reagan defense aides fully sup- 
port a program for building the new MX missile, particularly be- 
cause the warheads aboard the rocket would be accurate enough 
to destroy Soviet land-based missiles. But they assert that the Air 
Force’s existing system of Minuteman missiles is already vulner- 
able to attack and thus the United States cannot wait until the end 
of the decade for the MX to be deployed. 


88 



arms AND THE MAN 

a boo. pubUshad las, 

Hgftto: mat Can Ba Dona. Van C'“«= “ ,1^^, ..„y,ctiva 

son, another Reagan defense a vise . „ycraUSovielstrate- 

analyses show clearly .ha. by the early 1980s,ov™ 

gic nuclear force capabib.ies ^ , analyses show 

llniled S.a.es. Of even grea.er a abiU.y .o figh., 

a subslanlial dispanly m favor “f " consequenlly, .he 

survive, win, and recover from n^lear wa ^ 
audtors advocaled a series of “qmclc fia« 

more-vulnerable s.ralegic arsenal. Thompson 

Many of the ideas propose y actively dis- 

have been blessed by '^'“Sa" ^^,ad wish .he MX, 

cussed wi.hm .he Pentagon. putting a few hnn- 

dte Air Force is a„ missiles on .mcks and 

dred of the Air Force's eaistingM.""!'." 

moving them around a s'"“ ° “ , sub-launched rockets) 
about the growing vulnerability ( . . ^ gioog the East and 

of the Air Force’s B-52 bombers a „i,yn ,he 

West coasts, proposals for rnoving P ^ number of 

nation’s interior ate also being ‘ - air-launched cruise 

schemes for increasing the productio tomber. and build- 

missUcs, starting a program for a new j^ilitary installations 

ing antiballistic missile sites aroundj > 

around the country, such as missi e a ground forces, t e 

In the area of conventional ’ called one-and-a-half 

Reagan experts have taken aim oii . Nixon and perpe 
war strategy adopted a decade ago f United States 

uated by Jimmy Carter. Under re a f""'"^'' “Jj. 

required to possess suffictent o troops for a s 

met with the Soviet Union in E"™P' “IT World. But the Rca_ 
cr, “brush fire” war S'”"'*''"' “ . um,ed States could fin 

gan team believes that in the 19 s, simultaneously 

Leif fighting wars in a number “'"““homeintheCanb- 

rope, the Persian Gulf, East Asia, an Reagan ’ 

bean and Central America. Aecotdmg and 1 

such as Ray Klein of the Georgetown Center 


S9 



REAGAN THE MAN, THE PRESIDENT 

temational Studies in Washington, have called for an expanded 
system of Western alliances, including NATO, the Far East, Aus- 
tralia, and others, which would give Washington and like-minded 
nations the ability to cope with military threats on a global front. 

Such an alliance is a long way off, and in the short run Rea- 
gan and his advisers have stressed that the United States bears the 
primary responsibility for keeping the peace, particularly in vola- 
tile Third World regions. Thus, they are highly critical of Carter’s 
decision to base a rapid deployment force for use in the Third 
World on existing forces, arguing that this is merely an exercise in 
“robbing Peter to pay Paul.” Instead, in a report prepared for 
Reagan last summer, a Republican task force concluded that a 
massive increase in conventional strength was necessary to enable 
the United States “to be able to confront the new and greatly ex- 
panded Soviet ability to launch forces in important areas not now 
defended by the United States and its allies.” 

The task force, headed by retired General Edward Rowny, a 
former military representative in arms talks with Moscow, said 
that the nation needed 200 additional warships, five new Army 
divisions, and nine more tactical air squadrons. The report did not 
say how much these additional forces would cost, but a similar 
study prepared in 1^79 by the Committee for the Present Danger, 
a private group with close l ink s to Reagan, said that over the next 
five years, the Pentagon would need S200 billion more than 
spending estimates approved by the Carter administration. 

The question, of course, is where the money for new strategic 
and conventional forces will come from. The Reagan team’s sensi- 
tivity to this question was illustrated toward the end of the cam- 
paign when Van Cleave told reporters that the government had to 
consider the possibility of spending as much as 7 percent of the 
country’s gross national product for defense. (A little less than 5 
percent of the GNP now goes for defense.) When told about Van 
Cleave’s remark, William Casey, Reagan’s campaign chairman, 
quickly announced that he was not speaking for Reagan. But most 
^taiy specialists around Reagan privately acknowledge that 
Van Cleave is probably right; in order to meet the miUtary goals 


90 



ARMS AND THE MAN 


Spelled out in the campaign, it will be necessary to up the defense 
budgets by tens of billions of dollar in future years. 

One clear obstacle to boosting the defense budget is the deter- 
mination of Reagan’s economic advisers to bring government 
spending under control. Although men like Caspar Weinberger 
and William Simon have said that military spending must in- 
crease, there is almost certainly a gap between how they thinV the 
nation can afford it and the figures thought necessary by Reagan’s 
defense team. Political realities must also be taken into account: as 
much as the conservatives around Reagan would like to cut back 
government’s role in providing educational, health, and other 
services, the most pragmatic of them admit that the best that can 
probably be done is to limit further spending iiicreises. 

But even if the economic advisers are able to come up with a 
magic formula that would permit military spending to rise sub- 
stantially, any new resources for defense will most likely have to 
go for manpower rather than new weapons and new units. This is 
because, by most accounts, the country’s all-volunteer armed 
forces are failing. Instituted by Richard Nixon in the last days of 
the Vietnam War, the all-volunteer system is now faced with a 
number of seemingly insoluble problems. In the active forces, the 
problem is one of quality, and it is getting worse: in 1975, Army 
statistics show that 32 percent of new volunteers were below the 
national average in mental ability; in 1979, almost 60 percent were 
in this category. In the reserve forces, the problem is one of re- 
cruitment: the existing strength of the nation’s Ready Reserve is 
less than 400.000, about 275,000 short of the number that Con- 
gress has approved and the Pentagon says it needs. 

If the problem of recruiting people to the armed services is 
serious, the problem of retaining them is even worse. In the Ma- 
rine Corps, for example, less than 10 percent of recruits now sign 
on for another tour. The Navy, meanwhile, says it needs more 
than 20,000 experienced chief petty officers and only has 65 per- 
cent of the number of pilots ft requires for its aircraft carriers. 

The Republicans are not oblivious to this situation, and Sena- 
tor John Tower, the new chairman of the Armed Services Com- 



REAGAN THE MAN, THE PRESIDENT 

mittee, told a press conference in November that dealing with the 
manpower dilemma would be his “first priority,” The answer is 
simple: money. General Rowny, in a report for Reagan during the 
campaign, urged a 17 percent pay increase for officers and en- 
listed men alike. He also called on Reagan to reinstitute the 
educational benefits contained in the G.I. Bill and said that mili- 
tary pay should be indexed so that, for example, if prices went up 
by 10 percent, military salaries would rise by the same amount. 

The problem of sorting out military priorities between man- 
power and additional forces is clearly a difficult one. But even if 
Reagan and his defense advisers are able to find a balance, they 
must still face other excruciating choices. One of the most difficult 
is whether, in buying new forces, the Pentagon should emphasize 
nuclear or conventional weapons. In the 1950s, the Eisenhower 
administration, operating under the philosophy of buying “more 
bang for the buck,” opted for building up the country’s nuclear ar- 
senal. During the Kennedy period, this strategy was reversed, and 
under the “flexible response” doctrine the Pentagon was ordered 
to build up conventional defenses. 

In much the same way, the Carter administration emphasized 
the importance of non-nuclear forces and launched a drive in 
1977, to improve land and air forces in Western Europe. Now, a 
Reagan administration must decide where to set its priorities. 
Some Reagan military thinkers, such as Van Cleave, have stressed 
nuclear improvements in order to reduce the potential vulnerabil- 
ity of missiles and bombers to surprise attack. At the same time, 
however, Moscow’s growing capacity to threaten vital regions, 
such as the Persian Gulf, has led others, like General Rowny, to 
emphasize the need for additional land, sea, and air units. In the 
area of conventional forces, moreover, there are other choices. Al- 
though the major thrust behind the Carter defense program was 
strengthening NATO, some Republican defense thinkers believe 
that this emphasis was misplaced. For a start, they contend that 
the alhed governments of Western Europe, together with Japan, 
must be prodded to take on a larger burden for their own defense. 
Speaking to an enthusiastic group on Capitol Hill just after Rea- 


92 



ARMS AND THE MAN 


gan’s election, Alexander Haig, ihe former NATO commander, 
said that Japan and Western Europe no longer suffered from war- 
tom economies and “they are competing with us for markets at 
home and abroad." 

At the same time, Reagat), like many of his new team, is a 
Catifomian and docs not have close ties to such institutions of the 
East Coast “foreign policy establishment" as the Council on For- 
eign Relations in New York or Harvard or Yale universities. 
Thus, rather than focusing on Western Europe as the linchpin of 
American diplomacy, there are signs that Reagan is less con- 
cerned about NATO and more sensitive to security issues in other 
parts of the world — in the Persian Gulf, East Asia, and Latin 
America. This could mean that Reagan would be much more in- 
clined to spend extra defense funds on the Navy, the most visible 
form of American power in the Third World, rather than on the 
Army, which has the major role of defending Europe. 

Less clear is how Reagan and his top aides would approach 
the more subtle and frustrating problem of getting the most out of 
the defense dollar. Jeffrey Record, a former aide to Senator Sam 
Nunn and a Reagan defense adviser during the campaign, has 
argued that the Iranian rescue fiasco offered vivid testimony to 
the fact that “the United States has fumbled every significant mili- 
tary venture it has undertaken in the last twenty years." Record 
and other Reagan advisers maintain that the defense dilemmas 
facing the country are not just the product of funding shortages, 
but stem from deep-seated problems within the American military 
itself. Like other large-scale American enterprises, be it the Chrys- 
ler Corporation or Lockheed, the Defense Department, they con- 
tend, has become a bureaucratic monster in which inertia and 
inefTiciency, rather than innovation and accountability, character- 
ize its day-to-day operations. 

Jimmy Carter's “zero-based budgeting” was meant, four years 
ago, to force the Pentagon to review whether the roles and mis- 
sions of the four services were relevant to a new military era. In 
retrospect, many senior defense officials believe that this effort 
failed. “Our strategy and tacUcs arc still back in the 1950s,” said 

9J 



REAGAN THE MAN, THE PRESIDENT 

one Carter appointee, who asserted that bureaucratic reforms 
within the military were more important to improved combat 
capability than any budgetary increases. A report prepared for 
Reagan by the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank in 
Washington, struck a similar theme, saying there were “some pro- 
foimd doubts as to the soundness of the present structure of U.S. 
forces — their styles of deployment, their methods of warfare and 
their equipment preferences.” But Reagan may have even greater 
difficulty than Carter in promoting organizational reforms in the 
Pentagon. He is said by his closest associates to have little desire 
to second-guess the military and is thus more inclined to let senior 
officers, rather than civilian specialists, decide what kind of forces 
the country needs to buy. 

Beyond these issues is the much more sensitive question of 
Reagan’s propensity to use military force in foreign crises. Reagan 
is said by his friends to believe that to deter war, the United States 
not only needs adequate military forces but must also demonstrate 
the willingness to use them. During the Carter period, he is also 
known to have frequently complained to associates that the Geor- 
gian suffered from “a failure of nerve” in dealing with aggression 
and international terrorism abroad. In the final analysis, however, 
Reagan has virtually no experience in having to weigh the ex- 
cruciating pros and cons of ordering American troops into action; 
California, after all, does not have a foreign policy nor a military 
establishment. Reagan’s closest friends maintain that in .tense 
situations, he is anything but “trigger happy,” preferring concilia- 
tion over confrontation. But they also report that there is a point 
beyond which he will not allow himself to be pushed. So Reagan’s 
propensity to use mihtary force rem ains very much a mystery, 
probably the most important mystery confronting the nation and 
the world. 


94 



Reagan's World 


Hedrick Smith 


Not since (he 1960 campaign of John F. Kennedy has an Ameri- 
can presidential candidate ridden into office sounding the alarm 
that the United States has fallen perilously behind Russia in the 
arms competition. Not since the late Secretary of State John Fos- 
ter Dulles has so powerful an American leader issued the warning 
that the United Stales “has been sleepwalking too long” and must 
now “snap out of it” to engage anew in the global cold war. 

And yet whatever themes of Kennedy and Dulles two decades 
ago now echo in Ronald Reagan, the irony is that in the White 
House, the former Governor of California may emerge more as a 
natural counterpart to Soviet President Leonid I. Brezhnev than 
as a lineal descendant of any single American leader. 

For Brezhnev is a personally cordial, congenial consensus- 
maker who climbed to power in the provinces before ruling the 
KremUn, and he has presided over the most determined, costly, 
and successful buildup of armed strength in Russian history. Now 
comes Ronald Reagan, another genial, affable politician whose 
roots are in the midland and whose route to power has been 



REAGAN THE MAN. THE PRESIDENT 

through distant California, and he, too, has proclaimed his dedi- 
cation to a massive new American military thrust that will “re- 
store the margin of safety” for the Free World. 

Obviously, there are important differences between these 
ideological adversaries. But there are also intriguing parallels. 
Like Brezhnev, Reagan enters upon national leadership as a poli- 
tician whose primary concern has been domestic affairs and who 
is not broadly tutored in foreign policy. In the early 1970s, Presi- 
dent Nixon sent then-Govemor Reagan on goodwill tours to the 
Far East and Europe, just as Brezhnev was called on for cere- 
monial diplomatic chores before assuming real power. 

Reagan has visited more than twenty countries and met such 
leaders as West German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt, French 
President Giscard d’Estaing, and British Prime Minister Margaret 
Thatcher. But after he won the Republican nomination last July, 
Reagan decided against a trip to Europe on grounds that it would 
take too long for him to prepare himself and because it would 
seem an artificial effort to make him look expert in a field where 
he was still an amateur. Earlier, in a television interview, be had 
seemed to betray a surprising gap of knowledge when he did not 
quickly recognize the name of the President of France. Jimmy 
Carter mocked Reagan with the taunt that if the Republican were 
elected, participants in summit meetings would have to w'ear 
name tags for his benefit. 

Reagan’s inexperience brings to mind the stiff awkwardness of 
Brezhnev encountered by European leaders a decade ago. After 
the late French President Georges Pompidou and West German 
Chancellor Willy Brandt held their first meetings with Brezhnev, 
it was whispered about that the Soviet leader w'as so insecure in 
diplomatic affairs that he rigidly read the script of his briefing 
papers and, in response to questions, resorted to w'hat were evi- 
dently carefully rehearsed answers. Westerners complained that 
Brezhnev himself was too inadequately informed to sustain a 
genuine dialogue, an impression that has faded in the intervening 
years. 

Bom a few years apart in the early years of the twentieth cen- 


96 



REAOAirS WORLD 

f their world outlook many 

tury, Brezhnev , doctrines have been little modi- 

yeats ago and their Each talks in the tongue of 

fled by the changing tides of ^ E homeland and its 

the trie beUever, wUh suspicion toward the 

historic mission m the wori ideological enemies. To hear 

blutfmg and devious '““S' ^e foe! to hear Brezhnev, it is 

Reagan, Communism IS the. mlda^bUt^^.^ ^ 

capitalism. a"** adversaries, patriots and 

Xe terms. It is a “ „hy enemies. It is a world 

villains, loyal friends and untra I ^ ^^„eties or shadings of 
where complex power „hcre the vibrant nation- 

neutrality are often lost or f“rg poorly understood. 

alism of many other peoples IS dim^y pragmatic. 

In practice, however, both Brezhnev marched 

more toible than their 'b'’”"' "“he felt vital Soviet inter- 
Soviet troops into C^choslovakia ^ ___ ^ „, 3 , caus^ 

ests were at stake and into AfS"'"' “ power-conservatism 

i, seemed a safe bet. .'^'‘Icmess and let proxies fight 

of the Soviet elders who disdain reck ^^^iously than he 

1st of their battles, he ';ay«'X:.hen confrontation with 

sounded on other occasions P ^ 

Washington loomed. untested as a leader of B 

likewise though Reagan is urn ,. m as Oovemor of Cali 

In his inexperience readiness to go to 

has sometimes exhibite I power over w ually 

confiict with the Rf-^^^Vut he has often '0“^ ^ 

Ihe moment as crucial jot him too far out o 

when his own impulsive 


97 



REAGAN THE MAN, THE PRESIDENT 

The closer his political path brought him to the White House, 
the more narrowly he defined the perimeter of vital American in- 
terests. And the more eager he was to assert that he is at heart a 
man of peace “not trigger happy . . . not warmongering” and not 
itching for a showdown. For in his campaign for the Presidency, 
Ronald Reagan fashioned a rhetoric of implied force that is not 
only fervent in its insistence on greater military power but also 
vague as to how he would employ his power as President. 

In short, there are two Reagans and the tensions between them 
seem almost inevitably to foreshadow differences within the new 
administration and to arouse conflicting passions in Congress and 
among the public at large. Just as in the Carter administration, 
these conflicting presidential impulses are likely to produce shifts 
and lurches and inconsistencies of policy that will bedevil friend 
and foe alike. They make Reagan’s choice of senior defense and 
diplomatic advisers crucial to the course of American foreign 
policy over the next four years, for those who are the closest and 
most trusted will have great influence on which of the two Rea- 
gans is dominant at critical moments of decision. 

One Reagan is the rhetorical right-winger who instinctively 
voices wide popular disenchantment with post-war American di- 
plomacy, who conveys the sense that the world is a dangerous and 
inhospitable place and utters resentment that America has re- 
treated in the face of Soviet advances. This is the Reagan of con- 
frontation. This Reagan strikes a responsive chord when, his voice 
thickening with patriotic passion, he declares, “No more Viet- 
nams, no more Taiwans,” or when he suggests periodically it is 
time to strike back to demonstrate that America has not become 
what Richard Nixon once called “a pitiful, helpless giant.” This is 
the politician who picked hawkish foreign poUcy advisers for his 
campaign. 

The other Reagan is the pragmatic practitioner of power. His 
statements are more circumspect, his language more carefully am- 
biguous and qualified. If the right-wing Reagan urges a blockade 
of Cuba, the pragmatic Reagan shrewdly refuses to be lured into 
advocating American intervention in Iran. “I am not going to rush 


98 



REAGANS WORLD 


out and wave a blood-soaked sword and yell, ‘Onward men/ and 
I don’t think it’s necessary,” the pragmatic Reagan remarked last 
summer. “You use whatever force is necessary to achieve the pur- 
pose, and 1 would like to feel that there wouldn’t be a need for 
using armed force if we made it apparent that we have the will, if 
necessary, to do that.” This is the Reagan of accommodation, who 
talks of a “reasonable and balanced” relationship with Russia. 
This Reagan leans for advice on experienced, prudent conserva- 
tives like former Treasury Secretary George Shultz, a man with 
ties to European leaders and the world of international trade and 
finance. 

But whichever side of Reagan prevails at any given moment, 
the new President approaches the world with a basic philosophical 
outlook which is a throwback to the 1950s when American power 
was paramount and which may founder on the more complex 
realities of the 1980s. His is the bipolar world of the early Cold 
War. For Ronald Reagan, much more than for other recent 
American Presidents, the global power rivalry with Moscow not 
only animates his thinking about foreign affairs but to a great de- 
gree it is the prism through which he views the entire world. Both 
intellectually and temperamentally, he is ill at ease with the diffu- 
sion of power around the world and he has set out to reverse the 
decline of American power. 

He has minced no words in declaring that the top foreign 
policy priority of the Reagan administration will be quickly and 
dramatically to rearm the United States, to remove what he sees 
as a grave menace to the American nuclear deterrent forces, and 
to use the threat of a sharp new arms spiral to try to induce the 
Soviet leadership to reconsider their own nuclear strategy and ul- 
timately to negotiate on terms that Reagan considers more equita- 
ble to Washington and its Western allies. As his associates say, he 
and they are prepared for a long-haul effort. 

Even allowing for the exaggerated hyperbole of a political 
campaign, Reagan’s bristling ami-Sovici declarations have con- 
stantly rung with alarm. His vision of the American peril, the 
Western peril, is apocalyptic, “We now enter one of the most dan- 


99 



REAGAN TOE MAN, THE PRESIDENT 

gerous decades of Western civilization,” he warned as 1980 began. 
Instinctively, he has drawn parallels with the Western weakness 
and vacillation after Hitler’s invasion of Czechoslovakia on the 
eve of World War II, comparing Jimmmy Carter's reaction to the 
Soviet invasion of Afghanistan to Neville Chamberlain, the Brit- 
ish Prime Minister whose umbrella at Munich in 1938 became a 
s)Tnbol of appeasement. “I believe,” he said mockingly in one 
campaign quip, “we are seeing the same situation as when Mr. 
Chamberlain was tapping the cobblestones of Munich.” 

“World War II came about without prov'oeation,” Reagan 
reasoned in a more serious setting. “It came because nations were 
weak, not strong, in the face of aggression. Those same lessons of 
the past surely apply today. Firmness based on a strong defense 
capability is not provocative. But weakness can be provocative 
simply because it is tempting to a nation whose imperialist ambi- 
tions are virtually unlimited. We find ourselves increasingly in a 
position of dangerous isolation. Our allies are losing confidence in 
us, and our adversaries no longer respect us.” 

Like others, Reagan has found “a threatening pattern” in the 
Soviet thrust into Afghanistan; in the Soviet and Cuban involve- 
ment in Marxist takeovers in Ethiopia, Angola, and South Yemen; 
and in Cuban-backed terrorism and upheavals around the Carib- 
bean basin. It is Reagan’s lament that “all over the world, we can 
see that in the face of declining American power, the Soviets and 
their friends are advancing.” 

In Africa, in Asia, in the Middle EasE he clearly sees the 
Soviet hand behind the tumult of change. “Let us not delude our- 
selves,” he said in a candidly revealing comment to The Wall 
Street Journal, “the Soviet Union underlies all the unrest that is 
going on. If they weren’t engaged in this game of dominoes, there 
w'ouldn’t be any hot spots in the world.” 

That one characteristically sweeping judgment betrayed an ig- 
norance of, or a lack of concern for, the home-growm roots and 
nationalistic dynamics of the upheaval in Iran, the Arab-Israeli 
conflict, unrest in Southern Africa, tension in Turkey, or terrorism 
in Ireland, much less the broader economic confrontation ’oetween 


100 



reagaitswowJ’ 

sphere and Ihe ,JJvc diversity and turbulence 

Reagan’s scheme of things, t e ettp . Qi(,ting cunents mn- 

„f the Third World, the “t^E^sian^eare^^ 

ning through the arc of crisis are essentially unaccounted 

Jepende^ of -j"by "de they lahe in the 

for. Nations ate judged pro T economies or 

global chess Same, by wheth .^tether the 

Marxist governments. Situatio ^ 

cause of freedom is on the march o „ ,ake the politi- 

It was characteristic of Reap , P American elec- 

cal risks of stirring up sharp dm Vietnam was a 

torate, by proclaiming last ’'“8“ ^as a dead issue m the 

“noble cause." Up to that pomt Vi«”a ^ ^ 

campaign, but Reagan felt “ that he spoke out. His 

dom and that justice was on have been possible f 

strong implication was thal 5 of power at its dis- 

“L government” bad applied all the m»n 0 P „ ,at 

posauo back American ““ trlcaders is a persistent 

ftemwin." Andfailureo wtllby^en „ ,ha 

element of Reagan’s critique of America 

past quarter of a century. H„„ccd he said, Europe hope- 

Taiwan was unccnscionab y ,he Shah of Iran 

lessly confused by Carter s P°^^ /^,aful Reagan was m lus 

unceremoniously abandon^. Howe '““”° .lon 

policy pronouncements about American humih 

ton, he consistently “'"'“‘‘"’..'‘"U* the Shah. The calam^ 
could have been avowed ..puUed 

was caused, he argued, me-odd years standing- , 

the'failme of Ameri^n -U au^^ 


pearances.Hetalksasii American will an 

Ltised simply by the fadme of ,hc albe 

which allowed the Soviets to exp 



REAGAN THE MAN. THE PRESIDENT 

glosses over the increased power and determined independence of 
the Europeans and thinks almost exclusively in terms of American 
primacy in the alliance. As A consequence, he seems to believe 
that most alliance problems will be resolved and that Europeans 
will willingly come under the umbrella of American leadership 
once again if Washington only rectifies the strategic balance, 
demonstrates global firmness, and provides constancy of direction 
for allied policy, 

”We must be the arsenal for democracy,” he will say, harking 
back to the years before World War II when Franklin Delano 
Roosevelt, his early hero, used that as his battle cry to mobilize 
popular support for war against Nazi Germany. And with nostal- 
gia for an earlier era of Pax Americana, Reagan goes on to add: 
“We did not seek leadership of the Free World, but there is no 
one else who can provide it, and without our leadership there will 
be no peace in the world.” 

That same prideful instinct has caused Reagan to seethe in- 
wardly over what he sees as humiliations endured by this nation 
and its citizens in recent years and to assert repeatedly that Amer- 
ica must react more forcefully to protect its interests and its people 
around the world. For all his frustrations, America is still a bea- 
con to other peoples and the world is still an arena where Ameri- 
can power, American technology, American values, the American 
example can make a telling difference if American leaders wnll 
only be bold enough. One of his fondest memories, Reagan told 
one interviewer, was seeing a newsreel of the Spanish Civil War 
when an American naval company went “through the streets at 
double-time” to an American legation in a Spanish coastal city to 
rescue American citizens trapped by fighting. “You couldn’t help 
but thrill with pride at that,” he said. So much was America re- 
spected, according to Reagan, that the fighting in that region was 
temporarily suspended to let the American rescue mission pro- 
ceed. 

Elsewhere, Reagan may be less prone to commit American 
military force than his critics fear. In the campaign. President Car- 
ter exaggerated Reagan’s penchant for issuing ultimatums in his 


102 



REAGAN'S WORLD 


effort to paint the Californian as a reckless cowboy packing a six- 
gun and ready for a shootout at the least provocation. In a number 
of statements cited out of context by Carter, Reagan was actually 
advocating the use of American forces for peace-keeping purposes 
— in Cyprus, Lebanon, and Rhodesia. 

But on other occasions, Reagan was ready — at least rhetori- 
cally — to risk actual conflict in defense of American interests. In 
1975, when Ecuador seized American tuna boats for fishing inside 
what it claimed were its 200-mile territorial waters, Reagan pro- 
posed sending a protective Navy destroyer with the tuna boats “to 
cruise, say, thirteen miles offshore of Ecuador in an updated ver- 
sion of Teddy Roosevelt’s dictum to talk softly but carry a big 
sUck.” More menacingly, in 1968 when North Korea seized the 
American intelligence ship Pueblo, Reagan declared that the 
American response should have been: “Send our ship and our 
men out within sbe hours or we’re coming in to get them, and we’U 
use planes, guns, torpedoes, whatever it takes.” More recently, he 
suggested that America could have blockaded North Korea’s 
ports. 

In 1976, during the Angolan civil war when East and West 
were supplying rival factions, Reagan said more vaguely that it 
was “time to eyeball it with Russia and the place to start is in An- 
gola.” He may have meant only sending covert aid and supplies. 
Just as Carter sent aircraft to Saudi Arabia in 1979 and 1980 as a 
show of force to bolster nervous friends on the Arabian Peninsula 
and the Persian Gulf, Reagan advocated an American military 
presence in Sinai and Pakistan after the Soviet invasion of Af- 
ghanistan. After the American hostages were seized in Iran, he 
sounded a blunt — though vague — warning; “What you say in a 
situation of that kind — and you don’t say it in newspapers — you 
say it directly to them, ‘We want our people back and we want 
them back today or the results arc going to be very unpleasant.’ " 
But his most risky and controversial advocacy of the use of 
force was his persistent call for a naval blockade of Cuba in re- 
prisal for the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. "My own belief is 
that in addiUon to showing the flag there in the Middle East to in- 


J03 



REAGAN THE MAN. THE PRESIDENT 

dicatc they might face a confrontation with us,” Reagan said in 
the heat of the New Hampshire primary campaign last February, 
“we should have a plan of touching them on soft spots — for ex- 
ample, the suggestion I’ve made about blockading Cuba.” Despite 
the contention of his then-rival, now Vice-President, George 
Bush, that a full blockade of Cuba would be terribly costly and 
perhaps impossible to impose without risking a clash with the 
Russians, Reagan insisted that he was “not talking about 
war . . . not being a warmonger. Why couldn’t we blockade Cuba 
and then say to them, ‘When your troops get out of Afghanistan, 
we win drop the blockade around Cuba?’ ” he said. “And I think 
this could exert great pressure. ... I don’t think they could stand 
a blockade very long, and I think a little call on the hot line with 
this kind of threat might get the withdrawal of the troops from Af- 
ghanistan.” 

For all his alarms about growing Soviet military superiority, 
he contended — somewhat inconsistently and without offering 
any evidence — that Moscow would back down in a crunch. The 
Moscow that was so menacing in his rhetoric was deemed surpris- 
ingly malleable in reality. “I don’t think the Soviet Union has 
enough of an edge that they want a confrontation,” Reagan assert- 
ed. 


Much of what Reagan has been saying for years now mirrors 
the mood of America. During the Carter tenure, the public, the 
Congress, and the administration itself went through a watershed 
change, shifting gradually out of the neo-isolationism and the 
near-crippling sense of national culpability that followed the Viet- 
nam War. Opinion polls began showing majorities in favor of 
higher defense spending. The public, jolted by the Iranian revolu- 
tion, the threat to Western oil supplies, and the Soviet invasion of 
Afghanistan, seemed ready for a new era of greater American in- 
volvement in the world. 

Jimmy Carter abandoned his talk of cutting the Pentagon 
budget and pulling ground forces out of South Korea. Instead, he 
began pushing for bigger defense budgets and formation of a 


104 



reaqan^worid 

assertive nuclear targetmg eyes ablaze, when 

cheered and leapt to their feeh c PP ^ 

Reagan declared that it ,hc world — we 

don’t care whether we arc hk y 

want to be respected." t, f,„s serious limits on Ameri- 

But as Reagan takes olTicc he faces sen_^ 
can power abroad and on his i„ Congress last 

dent, at home as well as abroad. P ,l,j Senate, as- 

November, and especially Repubh 

sure him a more hospitable clima P p^^oarats in the 

and defense poUcies. But a «\“°^>RaaBan's drive for im- 
House is stiil ready to ^ deeply into domestic 

proved national defense from support of his foreign 

programs. His opening bids for P balance in the Senate, 
policy wiil help him. But with senatorial opposition to 

Lagan may not escape «■' ° L nucl=»' f“'' "> 
levels of aid or the supply of Presidents. More broadly, 

nations abroad that has curtai e campaign about exces- 

the widespread public Lt an Leasy public may 

live interventionism abroad mdicales 

be a restraining factor, intractable world than the 

Abroad, Reagan faces a much m soviet 

one idealized in his campaign speecn . ^ niic 

military strength that sets luni s J^^ey in the Middle Eas , 

power of Europe and Japan, oil d P ^ .j^n complexities of 
Ld the weakness of the Amencan economy^_^^ ^ ^ 

the strategic triangle, the ^.^nd-white categories o s 

do not yield readily to -the "'f e and elsewhere see te 

geopoUtical checkerboard. Alhes “ ^ “unterproduc 

overarching anti-Communism a Europeans, and o 

live. China, the OPEC powers. We«e™ Jv/ashington that 
have economic and P°“*‘^ ^’^Lutary power. And they a 
wiU not yield to greater Amencan 


103 



REAGAN TJIE MAN. THE PRESIDENT 

not, as Reagan has suggested, playing some Soviet game, but act- 
ing in their own interests. Almost everysvhere, Reagan’s nostalgic 
ideological impulses arc bound to bump into contemporaty real- 
ities that he has overlooked or cast aside and that now stand like 
rocks in his path. 

Given Reagan’s lack of record in foreign affairs, it is impossi- 
ble to predict his foreign policy with precision. Philosophically, he 
has laid the groundwork for radical departures from the policies 
of President Carter. He has opposed detente. Salt II, and the re- 
turn of the Panama Canal to Panama. He believes that a stepped- 
up arms race can lead to arms reduction ultimately. His rumbling 
rhetoric about the use of force and his recollection of the Vietnam 
War as “a noble cause” seem to foreshadow an aggressive poh'cy 
in the Third World. Indeed, there and toward Moscow, he will 
take a new' tack. But in other areas his course may not diverge so 
dramatically from Carter’s as both of them made it sound during 
the campaign. He’ll have to trim his sails to realities. 

“I would not foresee radical policy' shifts in the Reagan ad- 
ministration,” said Richard V. Allen, his top foreign policy' ad- 
viser in the campaign, sounding the pragmatic theme for Reagan. 
“There are sobering realities that confront a President on January 
21st. Vr’e do not control events. All we can do is shape them.” 

In one classic case, Reagan had to shift to the Carter course in 
the midst of his own campaign: toward China. That country is a 
prototype of situations where Reagan’s over-hasty and outdated 
ideological reflexes have gotten him into trouble and he has had 
to change position. With greater pragmatism than he is usually 
given credit for, Reagan had long before muted his outspoken 
anti-Communist rhetoric toward China and his long-held suspi- 
cion of the Peking regime, in good part bec:atise he began to see 
China as a potential partner in the three'-<x)mered strategic poker 
game with the Sosiet Union. V'ith the Republican nomination in 
hand last July, he began espotising broader relations with China 
and sent his running mate, George Btish, on a gcxjdwill mission to 


106 



REACAN^ WORLD 

Peking designed to cam points with the electorate for the sensitive 
and moderate approach of a Reagan administration. 

Instead, the rhetorical Reagan torpedoed the pragmatic Rea- 
gan’s mission before it was launched by getting snarled up in one 
of his pet ideological attachments: Taiwan. In December 1978, the 
Carter administration had agreed to have the United States repre- 
sented in Taiwan by a private foundation, stafTed by American 
diplomats, but Reagan, an ardent friend of Taiwan, had been out- 
raged to see an old ally treated this way. Campaigning in May he 
had declared that if elected, he would seek to re-establish “official 
tclaiions’j with Taiwan, which be called “the true Republic of 
China.” Despite his parallel interest in broadening ties with Pe- 
king, the Chinese were angered by his resurrection of the Taiwan 
issue. Reagan, bellowed the Peking People’s Daily, intends to turn 
ihc clock back and conduct American foreign policy as if there 
Were two Chinas. It will be very dangerous.” 

The candidate himself raced off to other matters closer to 
home while Allen tried to repair the damage and brush the whole 
controversy under the rug. Alien, who is more attuned than Rea- 
gan to the nuances of diplomacy, the terms of the American-Chi- 
nese diplomatic agreement, and the technicalities of the Taiwan 
Relations Act expressing congressional approval for unofficial 
relations, insisted in July that Reagan bad given up the idea of 
resuming “official relations” with Taiwan. He did not intend to 
alter the status quo, Allen said. 

Yet as Bush was preparing lo board his plane to China, Rea- 
gan revived the thorny issue of “official relations” with Taiwan at 
an airport news conference in Los Angeles on August 18, As Bush 
winged his way across the Pacific, Peking admonished Reagan for 
a “brazen” and “absurd” position that “would in fact destroy the 
basic principle of normalization of U.S. -China relations and 
surely affect normalization between the two countries.” In other 
words, chose them or us, Peking was telling Reagan. 

For several awkward days, while Bush was eating long Chi- 
nese dinners in Peking and frying to reassure his Chinese hosts 


107 



REAGAN THE MAN. THE PRESIDENT 

that the Reagan administration did not intend to change the ac- 
cepted terms of relations, Reagan continued clumsily to sow con- 
fusion back in America. Once again, he came out for “official 
government relations” with Taiwan. As Bush departed from Pe- 
king, the Chinese gave him a parting blast, saying his mission had 
"failed to reassure China” about Reagan’s intentions. 

Back in California, the two Republicans held a news confer- 
ence on August 25 in which the rhetorical, right-wing Reagan had 
to bow to reality — China was more important than Taiwan and 
the die had already been cast. He conceded past misstatements 
and pointedly dropped his insistence on “official relations” with 
Taiwan. With some justification, Reagan contended that since the 
American Institute in Taiwan was so heavily staffed by American 
diplomats, it was transparently “hypocritical” to pretend that this 
was an “unofficial” agency — though that is what he himself had 
previously been saying. But from now on, Reagan said, he would 
regard the institute as official in reality if not in name. 

For Reagan, that ended the episode. The pragmatic Reagan 
has since reaffirmed, more stoutly than ever, his desire to promote 
the "rapid growth” of American ties with China, though he left 
rather vague whether this meant making available some military 
equipment and coordinating strategies to contain the Soviet 
Union as well as boosting trade and cultural exchanges. Whatever 
the intent, he sounded very much in harmony with Carter policy 
as he approached his election. Nonetheless, Reagan is now handi- 
capped. Peking continues to sputter and fume. As President, Rea- 
gan begins his tenure with a fresh legacy of mistrust to overcome 
in Peking because of his own clumsiness. 

The entire episode may be symptomatic of the kind of diffi- 
culty Reagan may encounter with other major world powers — 
for example, in Europe — because of his relative inexperience and 
his insensitivity to the changes of the past decade or two. His im- 
pulse to shore up the alliance parallels Carter’s basic approach. 
But if the former Governor of Georgia never won lasting respect 
from European leaders because he failed to appreciate adequately 


108 



R£AOA>rs WORLD 


their, iudepcndent-minded views, Reagan may compound that 
problem. 

“There’s a generation gap between what Reagan thinks he 
knows about the world and the reality,” observes John Sears, the 
Washington attorney who managed Reagan’s 1976 campaign and 
did it again in 1980 until he was dismissed early in the year. “His 
is a kind of I9S2 world. He sees the world in black and white 
terms. That's okay if he has the right Secretary of State and the 
right National Security Adviser. The dangerous thing is not the 
Russians, but other situations beyond* the Russians. Reagan’s 
going to be upset to fmd out that some countries in Western Eu- 
rope part company with us rather sharply on a number of issues. 
He tends to assume a community of l^th objectives and tactics, 
that all want, at bottom, to ‘beat the Russians.’ ” 

Dealing with the alliance powers will prove a major test of 
Reagan’s adaptability. For coming into oHlce. be seemed not to 
have fathomed bow much American inCuence in the alliance has 
diminished as a natural consequence of European resurgence. His 
own perspective bears the hallmark of a simpler era when Ameri* 
can power was so preeminent that Washington’s decisions set the 
course for NATO. Now, for all his talk of improving alliance 
cooperation, he conveys an implicit, underlying go-it-alone 
American philosophy that assumes that if America only shows 
forceful leadenhip, loyal allies will naturally follow. 

In Reagan’s rather wistful view. America’s current difficulties 
with its major allies arc traceable to erratic Carter leadership and 
strategic slippage in the competition with Moscow. Carter caused 
confusion, Reagan has argued, by pushing a neutron warhead for 
the European theater and then backtracking once the Germans 
were ready to go along. His implication is that wider harmony can 
be restored by pressing ahead with a neutron warhead: never 
mind divisions among European nations on this issue or the pub- 
lic opposition that plagues even some of those governments ready 
to move ahead. Reagaa’a stress oa military preparedness will 
boost morale, no doubt, in some quarters of Europe. But his hard- 


i09 



REAGAN THE MAN. THE PRF.SIDEST 

line talk of standing against the Russians already has other Euro- 
peans nervous. The lesson lies ahead that alliance leadership re- 
quires more than a certain trumpet. 

Reagan used the first press conference after his election to 
reassure the allies and to proclaim the importance of the Euro- 
peans and his desire for “very close” relations with France, among 
others. But in the simplistic syinmctry’ of his bipolar world he has 
showTi little comprehension that European leaders such as Presi- 
dent Giscard d’Estaing of France see a positive virtue in a strong, 
independent Europe able to deal with the United States on equal 
footing and to conduct its own aiTairs syith the Russians, rather 
than having Washington speak for a united West. With Europe 
resurgent, economic rivalries and centrifugal forces divide the 
Western powers, apart from any Soviet chicanery or shortfalls in 
the Western arsenal. If Reagan treats Europe as an off-shoot of 
the Sovict-Amcrican relationship, he is in for trouble. 

During the campaign, for example, when European leaders 
were balking at President Carter’s retaliatory- grain embargo 
against the Russians, Reagan was complaining that the action was 
too mild. What the rhetorical Reagan advocated was a complete, 
across-the-board trade boycott, show-ing little comprehension that 
the Germans, French, and other continental powers have little 
taste for confrontation with Moscow over Afghanistan because 
they have a far greater economic slake in detente than America. If 
Reagan follows his historic right-wing impulses to face down the 
Russians, he is likely to be left out on a limb with little meaningful 
support from the alliance. Here, as with China, the pragmatic 
Reagan is likely to have to make adjustments. 

Obviously foreshadowing the difficulties ahead. Senator How- 
ard Baker of Teimessee issued a report after a trip to Europe in 
August declaring that a unified Western response to Afghanistan 
had been hampered by “a substantially different interpretation of 
detente in Europe from that of the most prudent observers in the 
United States.” Baker — hardly noted for extremism — said he 
had found a “fundamental disagreement over the character of the 


110 



REAGAN^ WOULD 


political and military policies required for the conduct of stable' 
East’Wcsi relations.” In concrete terms, this meant that at a time 
when Reagan’s experts were talking about an increase of 7-to-9 
percent in the -military budget (a real increase, after innation), 
Chancellor Schmidt was saying that West Germany’s economic 
problems might keep it from meeting the allowance goal of raising 
defense spending by 3 percent a year. 

Not only economic rivalries but differing approaches to the 
common need for imported energy drive perplexing wedges in the 
alliance, and so far Reagan has shown little appreciation of how 
Europe and America diverge on this issue. The Europeans, feeling 
far more dependent on Middle East oil and hence much more vul- 
nerable than America to another Arab oil embargo or cutoff aris- 
ing from a regional war. have taken a different tack in their diplo- 
macy, and may wind up differing more sharply with Reagan than 
with Jimmy Carter. 

Optimistically, both Reagan and the Republican platform talk 
of working to revive (he North Atlantic Treaty Organization and 
perhaps to extend its arm of protection into such strategic regions 
as the Indian Ocean. The Iraqi war with Iran, which stirred a 
common Western impulse to protect the vital flow of oil through 
the Persian Gulf and the Straits of Hormuz, may have provided 
an opening for the kind of collaboration a Reagan administrat ion 
would like to pursue. 

Skillful diplomacy may succeed. But if the Reagan team 
pushes for rapid construction of a new architecture of regional al- 
liances, reminiscent of the 1950s, they face reluctant partners in 
Europe, Except in the most acute situations — and they arc usu- 
ally temporary — European leaders do not share what has come 
across to them as Reagan’s inclination to draw lines in the sand 
against Russians or others who threaten Western interests. Rather 
than sharing Reagan’s rhetorical inclination to threaten force, the 
Europeans have favored intricate peace diplomacy sympathetic to 
ffte {kit atif- pav dhenr orr f cuvWV.vsw wiVA* 

gan. For the Europeans have looked for some time to an equitable 


JIJ 



REAGAN THE MAN.THE PRESIDENT 

Arab-Israeli peace agreement as the best long-term guarantee of a 
steady supply of Middle East oil to the West. 

The Third World is one of two areas (the Soviet Union is the 
other) where Reagan’s policies will probably diverge most notice- 
ably from the Carter years. Although Carter warned Americans 
that Reagan is “trigger-happy” and prone to use force, that may 
not be Reagan’s main problem in the most turbulent regions of 
the Third World. Reagan is a self-confident man, not one plagued 
by the kind of personal insecurities that would prompt him as 
President into a macho display of power to prove himself. Some 
who have known him for a long time, like John Sears, do not be- 
lieve that he will be as reckless or as aggressive as his right-wing 
rhetoric has made him sound. 

In the one Third World crisis that persisted during the cam- 
paign, Reagan was very restrained about the use of American 
power. He was less venturesome than President Carter, who 
warned in his State of the Union Address last January that Amer- 
ica was ready to use any means, including force, to repel an out- 
side attempt to control the Persian Gulf. In San Francisco last 
May, Reagan was asked whether he would send Moscow “a clear- 
cut ultimatum not to meddle” in Iran or risk American counterac- 
tion. His reply was to raise a cautionary theme he sounded several 
more times in the campaign: America was not strong enough or 
positioned well enough to make such a threat. 

“We could send an ultimatum but what would we back it up 
with?” he asked. Russia, he contended, has 150,000 troops poised 
on the Iranian border, far outgunning the Americans. “Logistical- 
ly, we’re talking about thousands and thousands of miles from our 
borders,” he said. “Maybe the signal [against Soviet intervention] 
we should send should be a bit further back, and that might be 
Saudi Arabia. And if we send it, we should send it only with the 
collaboration of our allies, Japan and Europe, who are so depend- 
ent on OPEC oil.” Such comments caused former Secretary of 
State Henry Kissinger to observe much later, “Recklessness will 
... be the least of Reagan’s problems.” 


112 



REAGANS WORLD 

A more liioly '^'l^blyti'SrThW World and 

pta forces .hat boil over „ friend or foe ar.d base 

to rdlexive instmet to ““6'’.'“ ii,e Reagan years, Car- 

to diplomacy on that ^ ^ North-South dialogue, 

sans of the other side. ,, liielv to move toward more clear- 

A Reagan admimstratiou « ^^e^ „ South Korea and 

eu. and untroubled relations ^„rieal Reagan's penchant 
the PhiUppines. But alienate lefl-leamus uon- 

for ideological judgment may ,„ ultimate 

aligned states such as India and Iraq a ^ Nicaragua, 

accommodation with Manust "8' ,^ j„eh as Pakistan, Saudi 

but it may even *‘“'*“‘5, Y vtciUate about how 

Arabia, and Jordan, “ho father they would hke an 

and Latin America somctimw inexperience or lack 

about the world and betrays R'J’^^arican Wends abroad that 

ohistication about fnrtions a"””* j tone American diplo 

Cwashington's -"aueuve^g „„„,ri.be aU.es m 

,gau has talked '-'’h“““';“''^a|rin of others. R'P'a''^. 

oaiedeUgh. oJ_somean^he*^l^ springs oo-P_^„ 

proclaimec 
marily from a 


has proclaimed that - j jelationship or ® fatally on 

nsariy from a histone ^ most f^dameny^^^ 

inherited from the struggle, Is'a' -jographic re- 

te calculation that m to glo ^ „,al geog P 

Uia.caninsomeunderu.edwa, ^ in a spot 

stable democracy we can rely 


gion. 


■•Israel is the only 


113 



REAGAN THE MAN, THE PRESIDENT 

where Armageddon could come,” he has said. “The greatest re- 
ponsibility the United States has is to preserve peace — and we 
need an ally in that area. We must prevent the Soviet Union from 
penetrating the Mideast. The Nixon administration unsuccessfully 
moved them out. If Israel were not there, the United States would 
have to be there.” More concretely, Reagan has talked, for exam- 
ple, of forming an anti-Soviet defense alliance with Israel, Egypt, 
and Saudi Arabia — an adaptation of the defunct Baghdad Pact 
strategy of the 195bs so ardently promoted by the late John Foster 
Dulles. At other times, Reagan has sounded as though he would 
like to base American forces, more or less permanently, in 
Israel. 

But in his friendship and support of Israel, pushed so zeal- 
ously during the election campaign, he seemed oblivious to the 
price he would pay among the Arabs if he pursued this strategy in 
office. Too ardent an embrace of Israel would not only inflame 
the Arab radicals but offend such moderates as Saudi Arabia, the 
Persian Gulf emirates, and Jordan. Reagan’s campaign rhetoric 
suggested, moreover, that he does not see the Palestinian question 
as an issue of fundamental consequence to the Saudis and other 
Arabs, and hence has failed to grasp its significance for the wider 
American strategy in the Middle East, either to secure oil or foil 
the Soviets. He may speak with admiration of President Anwar 
Sadat of Egypt or suggest throwing the mantle of Western protec- 
tion around the Saudi monarchy. But in his eager pursuit of Jew- 
ish support in his race for the Presidency, he has given virtually 
unqualified endorsement to the Israeli position, breaking with es- 
tablished American policy by backing Israel’s push for West Bank 
settlement and its integration of Jerusalem as its undivided capi- 
taL “An undivided city of Jersualem means sovereignty for Israel 
over the city,” he told a delighted band of Jewish leaders in New 
York. “The West Bank should be a decision worked out by Jor- 
dan and Israel. I would never have supported dismantling [of Is- 
raeli settlements on the West Bank and in Jerusalem].” 

Like others, Reagan has disparaged the Palestine Liberation 


114 



REAOAtfS WORLD 


Organization as “a terrorist grotip** with ominous lints to Mos* 
cow. He has also treated the Palestinian issue as a refugee prob- 
lem soluble by some mechanistic mathematical formula, rather 
than an explosively complex political issue with wide ramifica- 
tions for American relations with the Arab world, and for rela- 
tions with Europe beyond. “Palestine was never a country, " Rea- 
gan observed in one political debate. “It was a territory, an area, 
and it was a British mandate. And it was the British government 
that created the Kingdom of Jordan which is 80 percent of what 
used to be Palestine. The Israelis have less than 20 percent of what 
was Palestine. The Palestinian refugee problem, it seems to me 
then, is an 80 pcrcent'20 percent problem of Jordan and Israel.” 

Without Jordan’s participation in peace negotiations, that ap- 
proach can hardly succeed. No sooner did be win the election than 
Reagan expressed an interest in meeting with King Hussein of 
Jordan. But his public positions are hardly enticing to Hussein. 
Reagan has gone further than any previous American President in 
disagreeing with Jordanian terms for a seiilemeni by backing Is- 
rael's West Bank settlements and Jerusalem as Israel's capital. 
These views will prove a considerable handicap to any effort Rea- 
gan makes to draw the King into Arab-Israeli peace negotiations. 

In the end, unless the pragmatic Reagan moderates the rhetor- 
ical Reagan’s positions and launches a deliberate diplomacy to 
woo the moderate Arabs, the new President may even find himself 
hard-pressed to keep President Sadat of Egypt engaged in negotia- 
tions with Israel. For Sadat's patience has tested heavily on his 
personal relationship with Jimmy Carter and his faith in Carter’s 
even-handedness between Israel and Egypt. And an open collapse 
of the peace process in the Middle East will invite wider violence 
in an already volatile region. 

Somewhat belatedly, Reagan made friendly noises toward 
Saudi Arabia, the most imponant of the oil suppliers, a nation 
that has repeatedly resisted or moderated the sharpest OPEC price 
increases and boosted its oil output to help the West during the 
Iranian crisis. The Saudis arc likely to lest Reagan quickly by 


ns 



REAGAN THE MAN, THE PRESIDENT 

renewing their request for sophisticated equipment that will give 
offensive capability for the American-built F-15 fighters sold to 
them by the Carter administration. 

Because Israel so vocally opposed such a sale, reminding Car- 
ter that he had promised the Senate that no such equipment 
would be added to the planes, he rejected the Saudi request on the 
virtual eve of the election. But with a new administration in office, 
the issue is bound to be revived and Reagan’s reaction watched as 
a touchstone of his attitudes in office. 

Elsewhere in the Third World, Reagan’s ideological instincts, 
if carried into practice, wUl produce cleavages that Carter sought 
to avoid. In Latin America, for example, the Reagan approach 
will probably refurbish relations with what Reagan strategists like 
to c^ “the ABC cotmtries” — Argentina, Brazil, and Chile — 
which had their frictions with the Carter administration over 
human rights. Conversely, it will almost certainly bring diplo- 
matic clashes and perhaps more with Fidel Castro’s Cuba and 
Caribbean leftists. 

Reagan himself has called Latin America a touchstone for 
American relations with the Third World and a rising battle- 
ground with Communism. He has berated the Carter administra-, 
tion for ignoring realpolitik by its idealistic “bullying” of coun- 
tries like Bra^ and Argentina. And alarmed by what he sees as 
the rising leftist threat in Nicaragua, El Salvador, Guatemala, and 
Honduras, he has sharply chided his predecessor for aiding the 
leftist Sandanista government in Nicaragua. At heart, his fear is 
that Castro, acting as an agent for the Kremlin, is fomenting revo- 
lution and turmoil around the Caribbean, aiming to turn it into 
what Reagan called “a red sea” that will eventually engulf Mexico 
and leave the United States with a hostile, oil-rich neighbor on its 
southern border. 

The hallmark of Reagan’s own approach to Latin America for 
years was his relentless campaign against the treaties that will 
eventually turn over control of the Panama Canal to Panama. His 
blunt summary was: “We built it. We paid for it It’s ours, and 
we’re going to keep it.” Now that the treaties have been ratified. 


116 



REAOAN-S WORLD 

however, the pragmatic Uve up to their 

raised the issue only to warn that Panama mu 

Spirit and letter. «,nnded the trumpet for a 

The Tut 

battle against Cartbbean ’ .elf oromised to “initiate a pro- 

speech on October 19 , Reapn P eooperatmg coun- 
gram of intensive economic he seemed to differenti- 

friesoftheCaribbean-Betweentbe^ 

ate between general leftists an ^ prospect of 

and the KremUn, and rafter “ft America^elp. 

fmancial and technical aid for those re«pt 
Only practice d'"”' "Tn'^^e”ds to pursue a progms- 
It is clear, however, that K^^ause of its obvious size, 

sive policy toward Mexico ^ O„.,„„or of Califor- 

wealft, and importance but , i„„al Mexican immi- 
nia, he dealt personally with the tssue of H ga ^^, 1 , 

grants, and as a candidate he vist«d Mf “k^g of a North 
President Lopel Portillo. He „ aeparture of his 

American Accord, the “""“'.Trd, Ld L United States, 
campaign, embraemg Mexico, ,o enable the three 

What he envisioned was a iripart from their 

oeighbors to deal home advocating an 

interdependent economies. ”1. Mexican migrant workers sure 
American open-border policy jit,usinesses m the Sout w 

to appeal to the kind of political tensions with 

who back Reagan, but also like y jg percent unemp ^ 

Mexico. "They have a P'"”''” .f^Tdonh we work out some 
ment ” Reagan said of Mexico Why f„t them ft 

recognition of our mutual P™”''®';, ,he only safety valve 

com! here legally witha«orkpe™ftT__^^^, loan, 

they have right now w ifHown there.” a Mexico is 

keep the Ud from blowing off de^ jo loward Mexico 

Reagan associate, contend that h ^ 

tadicative of h.h "TTnotTfdeologically risM^T^r’a mixed 

Tr"'l^"st government that presideso 

117 



REAGAN THE MAN, THE PRESIDENT 

economy, as in Mexico, especially if there is the specter of an even 
more threatening swing to the far left. It is that bogeyman of 
Marxist extremism or the Soviet bear that may produce the most 
pragmatic actions of the Reagan administration in the Third 
World. 

By far the most striking break from Carter's foreign policy ap- 
pears in Reagan’s approach to the Soviet Union. He has rejerted 
“the illusion of detente,” which he claims lulled the West into ex- 
pecting Soviet restraint around the world and in the arms race. He 
has vowed to withdraw from the Senate the Strategic Arms Limi- 
tation Treaty negotiated from 1972 until 1979 and signed by Car- 
ter and Brezhnev in Vienna, as a “flawed treaty” that permits the 
Soviets to race ahead with their military buildup while restraining 
the United States and, as he and his advisers like to put it, “freeze 
the United States into a position of permanent inferiority.” Until 
close to the end of his campaign, he talked the language of con- 
frontation. Only in the waning fortnight, with the election in the 
balance, did Reagan stike a more pragmatic and balanced ap- 
proach on both arms control and general dealings with the Rus- 
sians. 

But his latest positions come against the backdrop of his fer- 
vent, long-held views that “there is a Communist plan for world 
conquest” with the United States as the ultimate target. In his fa- 
mous television speech in 1964 on behalf of Senator Bany Gold- 
water, then the Republican nominee, Reagan posed the global 
contest in stark and dramatic terms: “We are at war with the most 
dangerous enemy that has ever faced mankind in his long climb 
from the swamp to the stars, and it has been said if we lose that 
war, and in so doing lose this way of freedom of ours, history will 
record with the greatest astonishment that those who had the most 
to lose did the least to prevent its happening.” 

Western peril, he has suggested, is at its peak in the era of de- 
tente because of false expectations. “Where is the Soviet restraint 
promised in the Code of Detente of 1972?” the rhetorical Reagan 
asked last spring. “Is it visible in the Russian military buildup in 


118 



REAGANS WORLD 


North Korea? Or in the occupied islands north of Japan? Did we 
see it in Hanoi’s annexation of Indochina? In Soviet complicity in 
the starvation of the people of Cambodia? The Soviet provision of 
poison gas used against the hill tribesmen of Laos? Is Russian re* 
straint evident in their military intervention with Cuban proxies in 
wars in Angola and Ethiopia? Is it visible in their imperial inva* 
sion of the then independent, neutral nation of Afghanistan, 
where they executed their own puppet president and his entire 
family, including even his threc-year-oM daughter?" 

Far more unnerving in Reagan’s eyes, however, has been 
Moscow’s drive for strategic nuclear superiority which, if un- 
checked and unmatched, as he told the Veterans of Foreign Wars 
in Chicago last August, threatens the West with an ultimate choice 
of war or surrender. "The Soviets want peace and victory," he as- 
serted. ‘They seek a superiority in military strength that, in the 
event of a confrontation, would leave us with an unacceptable 
choice between submission or conflict.” 

"We face a situation in which our principal adversary, the 
Soviet Union, surpasses us in virtually every category of military 
strength," he said last spring. Later, he estimated that the Soviets 
"lead us in all but six or etght Jof the forty strategic military cate- 
gories] and may well surpass us in (hose, if present trends contin- 
ue.” Over the past decade, he has argued, Moscow spent $240 bil- 
lion more than Washington on defense and is now outspending 
America by $50 billion a year. 

Such anxieties have plagued conservatives and hawks for 
years. But they now win a broader consensus among Washington 
policy-makers and reflect a more pervasive public mood. The 
Reagan camp can cite not only its own experts but also top mili- 
tary brass in the Carter administration. As Reagan reminded a na- 
tional television audience on October 19, the Senate Armed Serv- 
ices Committee was so concerned about the trends in the arms 
race that it concluded in December 1979 that “the SALT II 
Treaty, as it now stands, is not in the national security interests of 
the United Stales of America.” 

Most significantly, the Reaganites were armed with the firet 


II9 



REAGAN THE MAN. THE PRESIDENT 

acknowledgement from Harold R. Brown, the Carter Defense 
Secretary, that Soviet nuclear forces have developed sufficient 
capability in late 1980 that the American arsenal of 1,054 land- 
based missiles “could be destroyed within a very short time as one 
result of a Soviet surprise attack.” Moreover, with Soviet capabil- 
ities improving far more rapidly than American intelligence had 
expected only a year or two ago. Brown contended that “at least 
potentially” Soviet programs would “threaten the survivability of 
each component of our strategic forces” — bombers and subma- 
rines as well as land-based ICBMs. Later, Brown backtracked a 
bit on that estimate, but Reagan’s argument had already been but- 
tressed. 

The Reagan strategy is to withdraw the SALT II arms control 
agreement and to put pressure on the Soviet leadership to agree to 
an agreement more favorable to Washington by confronting the 
Kremlin with a major new American military surge which, as the 
Republican platform optimistically put it, will be “sufficient to 
close the gap and ultimately reach the position of military superi- 
ority.” So controversial and scary is the concept of superiority to 
much of the American electorate that the mere mention of it re- 
vived anxious debate over the prospect of an open-ended arms 
race that would permanently kill all prospects for arms control. 
Reagan found refuge during the campaign in the ambivalent dec- 
laration that he wanted to “restore the margin of safety” for 
America, letting conservatives read that as superiority and moder- 
ates and liberals hope that it meant something less. 

“My objection to SALT II is not arms limitation,” he said in a 
crucial interview with The Associated Press on October 1. “It le- 
gitimizes the arms race. It begins by letting the Soviet Union build 
3,000 more warheads, then we can buUd some to catch up, only we 
can’t catch up until 1990. 1 think it is a fatally flawed treaty, and it 
isn’t arms limitation. If we’re really going to try to remove the 
danger to the world today, let’s sit down with the intention voiced 
and the agreement of the other side that we’re going to find a way 
to fairly reduce the strategic weapons [of both sides] so that nei- 
ther one of us can threaten the other.” 


120 



REAGATPSWORl-D 


But, be insisted, the American slant on arms talks had to be 
different from the past. “I don’t think that we should sit at the 
table the way we have in the past,” he said. "We have been unilat* 
erally disarming at the same time we’re negotiating supposed arms 
limitation with the other fellow, where all he has to do is sit there 
and not give up anything and his superiority increases. He wUl be 
far more inclined to negotiate in good faith if he knows that the 
United States is engaged in building up its military. ‘They know 
our industrial strength. They know our capacity. The one card 
that’s been missing in these negotiations has been the possibility of 
an arms race. Now the Soviets have been racing, but with no 
competition. No one else is racing. And so I think that we’d get a 
lot farther at the table if they know that as they continue, they’re 
faced with our industrial capacity and aU that we can do.’’ 

His objectives, he went on to say, were either to persuade the 
Kremlin to accept absolute arms teduaions or to improve the 
American defense posture to the point that "once again the possi-* 
bility of a (Soviet] pre*en}plive strike has been eliminated." 
Throughout the campaign, Reagan and bis aides studiously 
avoided putting a precise time frame and a dollar celling on their 
projected buildup. Reagan pledged simply to spend "whatever is 
necessary.” 

Despite his skittishness about budget llgures, Reagan has 
made clear his intention to give defense spending priority not only 
over domestic programs but even over balancing the budget, long 
one of his cherished goals. By the estimaies of some of his advis- 
ers, the Reagan defense budgets between now and 1985 will run at 
least $150 billion and perhaps about $250 billion more than the 
Carter administration had planned to spend. 

But in Reagan’s prescription, more than dollars are required. 
If America is to achieve what be calls "peace through strength,” it 
must regain its will, its firmness. It must shake what he calls "the 
Vietnam syndrome.” The lesson of that war, he contends, was not 
that it was mistaken or immoiaj but simply this: "If we are forced 
to fight, we must have the means and the determination to prevail 
or we will not have what it takes to secure the peace.” 


12 ! 



REAGAN THE MAN. THE PRESIDENT 

Seeking to capitalize politically on the ominous sound of the 
Reagan program, President Carter warned that his challenger was 
edging the nation toward “a nuclear precipice.” Reagan, he said, 
was “extraordinarily naive” about the nuclear arms race and 
Soviet psychology and “does not understand the serious conse- 
quences of what he’s proposing.” From his own experience. Carter 
declared, it was a “naive assumption” that the Soviets’ response 
“to all these steps will be to agree to new concessions and reduc- 
tions in their nuclear arsenal.” Coming from Carter, the point 
seemed especially well taken, for he began his administration in 
1977 by setting aside the Nixon and Ford efforts toward a SALT 
II agreement and sending his Secretary of State, Cyrus R. Vance, 
to Moscow to seek significant arms reduction. Moscow objected 
strenuously, publicly denounced the idea, and stonily forced the 
Carter administration to revive the Vladivostok formula, worked 
out in 1974 by former President Ford, and to use that as the basis 
for a new arms agreement. 

During the campaign, the Soviet press lampooned Reagan “as 
an aggressive and ignorant Californian who does not remember 
the name of the President of France, who mixes up North Viet- 
nam and North Korea, and who repeatedly refers to Indonesia as 
Indochina. But with the realpolitik that guides Soviet thinking, the 
tone changed after the election. Moscow did not immediately slam 
the door to Reagan’s approach on SALT. It was up to the new ad- 
ministration, the Soviets told an American delegation to Moscow 
in November, to propose “desired changes” in the SALT II treaty. 
Some of the American group were encouraged by Moscow’s ap- 
parent willingness to listen. On November 17, Brezhnev made a 
point of treating Reagan’s campaiign oratory as a filing of the past, 
asserting that “any constructive steps” by Washington would meet 
with “a positive reaction on our part.” 

In practice, that may not turn out to be as promising as it 
sounds. One of the participants in the informal Soviet-American 
talks, Lincoln Bloomfield, an arms control specialist with long ex- 
perience with the Russians, called the latest meeting “one of the 


122 



N«w T««m R«publ(C4n noniiacei K«fl4ld l(ca(sn. %>ih hu wife Nancy and Oeorge Suth. 
With hi< wife Barbara, tout a Kotutottahoppingmanthotilyafunhe Republican National 
Convention (VPi) 


OFF AND RUNNING 


In Charge Candidate Reagan hold* hn Tine ttaff meeting after being nominated Ibe 
Republican presidential candidate MR/ 











INSIDE THE REAGAN CAMPAIGN 



William J. Casey; Reagan’s presidential campaign director. 
(Wide World) 



Richard Wirthlin: Reagan’s campaign pollster and senior 
strategist. (Wide World) 



James A. Baker HI; George Bush’s presidential campaign 
director. President Ford’s Undersecretary of Commerce, and 
campaign director against Jimmy Carter in 1976. (Wide 
World) 


Lyn Nofziger. An old hand from Reagan’s California 
governorship, he joined the Reagan presidential campaign as 
press secretary. (Wide World) 




Stuart Spencen A veteran California political consultant, he 
played a key role in planning the Reagan victory strategy. 
(Wide World) 


Dr KUrtin Anderson A ftliow M the Hoover Imiituie ii 
5i*nford Unisersity. Anderson hat been Reagan's scnioi 
domestic-affairs adsiser (H'ldr tt'orU) 


Richard V Allen Reagan's chief loreigii-]K>Iicy adviser, he 
served on the hiaon administration's hiaiiooal Security 
Council Charges that he had profiled from (hat office led to 
his Kjihdranal from the campaign lonard the end. though 
Reagan expressed full canfidence in him He was a senior 
adviser on the transition team ffPiifr H'or/ef) 


Ed«inMecselU Kcaen a po«<isiniggle»iih John? Sears 
and emerged as the campaigns chief of staff He holds a newly 
ereaied Cabinet post. Counselor to the Presideni /Widf 
Itar/JJ 


P Sears . ' 

.'S 




John P Sears fJf/0 Reagan'r chief of staff m the 1976 presidenti^j campaign and again i 
1980 until he lost out to Edwin Meese Sears discovered that Reagan vat prepared lobequit 
unconventional—io the discomfon of more conservative Republicans Senaror Paul Lara: 
frighij A longtime Reagan friend and poliucal counselor. 

Republican from Nevada flfide HorfdJ 




Milton Friedman (right): Professor of economics at the University of Chicago and a Nobel 
laureate. (VPI) 


Charts E. Walker (Ifft ): Former Deputy Secretary of the T reasury and chief lax adviser to 
Reagan- (AP) 







THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL 


Rough Going: As Reagan campaigns 
at a steel plant in Youngstown, Ohio, 
he passes a Carter poster. (AP) 


Easy Going: Toward the campaign’s 
end, Reagan is greeting by scores of 
supporters in Florida. fAP^ 






KEY POINTS 




rf 

W^- 




.Vrjj' i 3 

1 


V --- ■r->-c<-T7-.-- 

®®lSf 




Plane Straleg>". Reagan hears out adviser Alan Greenspan Oefi) on the candidate's major 
economic speech u'hile adviser Martin Anderson listens. (VPI) 


Debate Strategy- Reagan plans for the nationally televised debate against President Carter 
vsith advisers Richard Wirthlin (back to camera) and William Simon. (AP) 



















F«ce-to-Faw PrtiidMit Carter aiul Reagan greet each other on stage before iheir only 

campaign debate Reagan Vi as generally eonsKtered to hatrteomfwcfl against Carter, a Atgh- 

laaiet mark for himan the campaign. (VFI) 







CirterLosn Prctidea(C*n«rcone«d«tde(ea)e«tlyinih««v«nintoI£)«ciienDiy Wjthhun 
att hi* wtf« Roialyan. daughter Amy. tn4 (randson Jaion. (VPlj 


Sad New* At *hat ikould hav« b«tn hi* vtcioty cttehniioa. PrttiQent Canat it consoled by 
his sialT snd bit cabinet ofTictn and their wives (UPl) 




VICTORY! 


Winning Team: President-elect Ronald Reagan and Vice-President-elect George Bush at 

: } their first news conference, November 7. M/V 

. > - - - I Fll 






RMginTali<iiheC«t« Th«map4nttKRe*(*nv>oorycaU.«icAna{sm«riiinsihesu(ethe 
Vron, indicates the Reagan landslide (APf 


Many Happy Returns President'etect Rra|an and ’KiUNancyenioyacongtatulaiory cation 
election ni|M (Af) 




REAGAKSWORLD 


most sober I ever experienced. I thought they (the Soviets] were 
quite pessimistic in their evaluations of the period ahead.” 

Whatever is now said in public, Reagan brooks the disfavor of 
the Soviet leadership by rejecting an arms agreement negotiated 
by two previous Presidents. More fundamentally, having achieved 
at least rough strategic parity with America through an eighteen- 
year arms buildup, the Soviet leaders arc unlikely to let it slip now 
from their grasp. Their arms programs have developed momen- 
tum, far more momentum than the American experts anticipated 
only a few years ago. And it took long, arduous bargaining for 
them to accept the agreement that Reagan believes is to their ad- 
vantage, making it highly unlikely that they will accede any time 
soon to what he obviously intends as his advantageous terms. 

Another complication arose in Reagan’s first comments after 
the election when he said be would link arms negotiations with 
Soviet behavior arourtd the world. ”1 believe in linkage,” he said, 
reviving a Nixbn-era concept abandoned by the Carter adminis- 
tration. ‘The policies of aggression of the Soviet Union . . . must 
be a part of discussions and negotiations that go forward,” he said. 
“I don’t think you simply sit down at the table to discuss arms 
limitations, for example, but you discuss the whole attitude, world 
attitude, as to whether we’re going to have a world of peace or 
whether we’re simply going to talk about weaponry and not bring 
up these other subjects.” To Time magazine, he suggested that if 
Moscow did not like the idea that "their overall policy of aggres- 
sion must be a part of what is going on at the negotiating 
table . . . maybe the disadvantage [to them] would be that you 
wouldn’t negotiate.” 

The hard Reagan line, coming at a time of Soviet transition to 
new leadership, may spur yet another Soviet effort to repair rela- 
tions with China and prompt new Soviet stratagems to split off 
America from West Europeans who have come to regard arms 
control agreements as a reassuring foundation for detente. 

Sensing nervousness about Ms approach, the pragmatic Rea- 
gan sought to calm an anxious American electorate with his prom- 


123 



REAGAN THE MAN, THE PRESIDENT 

ise on October 19 to “begin immediate preparations for negotia- 
tions on a SALT III treaty.” He replaced some of his own bristling 
rhetoric with the assertion that “we seek neither confrontation nor 
conflict” and the conviction that “with our allies, we can conduct 
a realistic and balanced policy toward the Soviet Union.” And in 
his first post-election press conference, he was more positive than 
previously about SALT IL He suggested that it not be rejected out 
of hand but that the two sides “take what is usable out of SALT 
11” as the basis for renewed discussions or as an interim agree- 
ment, while they seek significant reductions in SALT III. 

But if his approach was sounding more pragmatic, his logic 
had not altered. He remains convinced that the leverage of Ameri- 
can industrial might, technological ingenuity, and economic flex- 
ibility will ultimately cause the Kremlin to reconsider and raise its 
own policies as it faces the prospect of being outrun in a new arms 
race of the 1980s as it was in the moon race of the 1960s. He has 
been told by his advisers that the Soviet leaders have already 
squeezed their consumers and their economy to the limit so that 
he believes there is no real slack in the Soviet economy to throw 
more resources into an accelerated arms competition. 

“I don’t know whether the Soviets will ever sincerely share our 
aspirations for strategic stability, and our desire to reduce nuclear 
armaments,” Reagan said late last summer. “I don’t know 
whether they will ever be willing to moderate arms competition in 
favor of cooperative arms limitations. But I believe we have given 
them little incentive to do so. . . . We must convince them that 
their ambitious strategic goals must be lowered because the cost of 
pursuing them is too high and the chance of success too low.” 

A certain toughness and demonstrated willingness to unleash 
American technology in the face of the threatening Soviet arms 
buildup is sometimes necessary. But it is easy to overdo. To some 
outsiders, Reagan’s hardline rhetoric sounds like a formula for 
sidetracking effective arms negotiations or at least leaving them in 
suspended animation for a year or two, or maybe more. Early in 
the campaign, close Reagan associates were quite comfortable 
conceding that it would be a year or two until meaningful arms 


124 



REAGANS IV'ORLO 


negotiations began. The closer they got to Election Day, the 
shorter their lime frame became. 

To ease voters’ concerns, foreign policy aides like Richard 
Allen drew a distinction between formal negotiations and “talks” 
with the Russians. Talks, Allen contended, could start very early 
and deal cot only with the arms race but such other crucial topics 
as avoiding accidental conilicts around the world. Moreover, the 
Reagan high command envisages fairly regular high-’level — 
though not summit — meetings with the Russians and plans to 
upgrade the importance and functions of the American Ambassa- 
dor in Moscow as a channel for communicating with the 
Politburo. 

Nonetheless, Reagan himself seems to feel that it will take 
time for the Soviets to adjust to his view of the world and bis way 
of doing business. They will choose to be more flexible, he con- 
tends. only when confronted with the hard reality of renewed 
American determination and military readiness to protect vital in- 
terests and allies abroad. And for all bis pre-election protestations 
about not wanting a showdown, (here is a hint that he believes 
that it will take some test of strength to alter Soviet calculations. 


125 



VIII 


The Final Campaign 

Adam Clymer 


Ronald Reagan exited stage right in >976, hailing the ver>' conser* 
vative party platform that bad been conceded to his supporters by 
President Gerald Ford’s forces as a “banner of bold unmistake- 
able colors with no pale pastel shades.” His next entrance was 
clearly a move to the middle, if not in substance, then certainly in 
tone. By the time he announced his candidacy for the Republican 
presidential nomination formally on November 13, 1979, he was 
courting party moderates, putting up with some criticism from his 
own right, and looking forward, perhaps a bit too soon, to the gen- 
eral election. Explaining bis candidate's rather bland announce- 
ment speech that night, Reagan’s press secretary, James Lake, of- 
fered the candid explanation, “You use angry words, maybe, to 
gel nominated, but not to get elected.” 

Reagan’s path from the Kansas City Convention Center in 
August 1976 to the grand ballroom of the Waldorf-Astoria in New 
York City in 1979 was rather simple, and rather obvious. After a 
light schedule of campaigning in the fall of 1976, one which was 
aimed more at helping conservative Republicans and extolling the 



REAGAN THE MAN, THE PRESIDENT 

platform’s virtues than at allout assistance for Ford, Reagan went 
back to writing a syndicated newspaper column, making radio 
commentaries, and speaking at conventions and Republican Party 
functions. “He was doing the very thing one would do if one were 
running full-time, having his options open. Nothing was certain, 
but he was very robust and physically young for his age,” said his 
friend, William French Smith, a Los Angeles attorney who has 
been part of Reagan’s inner circle since Reagan first got into poli- 
tics. 

But there was one special step he took, creating a political ac- 
tion committee out of leftover 1976 campaign funds (money that 
came in too late to be used that year and that Reagan could le- 
gally have pocketed and paid taxes on). He put about $1 million 
into the organization, run out of a small office in Santa Monica, 
California, which helped Republican candidates, mostly conserva- 
tives, and put out a sharp-tongued newsletter that kept Reagan in 
touch with his faithful supporters. It was named Citizens for the 
Republic, using the initials CFTR after an initial choice of CFR 
outraged some on the right because it reminded them of the 
dreaded Council on Foreign Relations. 

In 1977 he sounded off against the Panama Canal treaties, 
going on national television to oppose them, but it was not a full- 
time preoccupation. They were ratified the next year anyway, 
though in the process Reagan’s closest friend in elective politics, 
Senator Paul Laxalt of Nevada, developed a reputation in Wash- 
ington for leading the opposition to the pacts with dignity and 
without demagoguery, a reputation that enhanced his ability to 
sell the Reagan candidacy among his colleagues. 

In 1978 he campaigned hard for Republicans, even such mod- 
erates as Senator Charles H. Percy of Illinois. But talk that he was 
moderating his views and concern about his age — he would be 
sixty-nine less than three weeks before the 1980 New Hampshire 
primary — served as an excuse for one challenge, the candidacy of 
Representative Phihp M. Crane, a handsome, very conservative 
Illinois Republican who said on August 2, 1978, that he was run- 
ning but promised to drop out if it ever seemed to him he was en- 


128 



THE FINAL CAMPAIGN 


dangcring a true conservative’s chance of winning the nomination. 
(In fact. Crane’s scattering of support in the 1980 Iowa caucuses 
may have been enough to deny Reagan victory there, but Crane 
did not drop out until Reagan’s nomination was all but certain 
two months later.) 

In 1979 Reagan first set up an cxploratoiy committee, one of 
those political fictions that lets money be raised and spent without 
subjecting (he would-be candidate to real scrutiny. In Reagan’s 
case, it also permitted his radio broadcasts to continue without 
hindrance from the equal-time rule. Reagan held back from say- 
ing very much that was new or exciting, telling an interviewer 
'“you have to ration your ammunition.-* He kept up his schedule of 
speeches around the country, combining those banquet affairs 
with political meetings and attracting local headlines with his 
bluntly phrased views, such as the comment, after the murder of 
(he United States ambassador(o Afghanistan, (hat “I’m hegioning 
to wonder if the symbol of (be United States pretty soon isn't 
going to be an ambassador with a flag under his arm climbing into 
the escape helicopter." 

If he made one significant speech before November 13, it was 
a San Diego address in September rejecting the new Strategic 
Arms Limitation Treaty, a speech in which he argued that the 
treaty was flawed because it did not provide for reduction in arras, 
and did not secure the United States adequately. Its bottom-line 
opposition was what his conservative constituency demanded. But 
the tone was calm and reasoned. There was no ideological raw 
meat in it. 

Most of the 1976 campaign team was back for 1980, talking 
confidently to reporters about bow this time they would really 
have time to plan a campaign right. John P. Sears was traveling 
the country, preaching Reagan’s virtues to the nonbelievers, mod- 
erate Governors such as William G. Milliken in Michigan or 
James A. Rhodes in Ohio. Old supporters had been signed up 
again, pros such as Gerald Carmen in New Hampshire, and some 
new friends had been found. The most prominent of them was 
Drew Lewis, the former Pennsylvania state Republican chairman 


129 



REAGAN THE MAN, THE PRESIDENT 

who had held the line for Ford there in 1976 after the Schweiker 
gambit, but signed on with Reagan in early 1979. 

But the 1979 Reagan campaign looked better from afar than 
at close range. Despite constant promises, nothing much was hap- 
pening on developing the detailed positions on issues that every- 
one agreed Reagan needed. The SALT speech was an exception to 
that pattern, with a lot of effort going into briefing Reagan before 
the speech was written. Geographically, the campaign was split 
between the east and west coasts, with Sears dividing his time be- 
tween Los Angeles and Washington, where Charles Black headed 
up the field operation. And, with Sears in charge, frictions devel- 
oped that led first to the departure of Lyn Nofziger, Reagan’s 
longtime press aide who was unaccountably put in charge of fund 
raising, and then of Mike Deaver, another old hand who crossed 
Sears. David Keene, who worked the Southern states in 1976, 
never joined the 1980 effort, choosing instead to serve as political 
director for George Bush, a position better than he could have had 
with the Reagan campaign. 

Still, the campaign suffered no significant setbacks in 1979. 
Other candidates sought to win headlines and respectability with 
victories, or even second-place finishes, in straw polls conducted 
at party dinners, mostly in Iowa. They were looking for shortcuts, 
t hinkin g that a straw poll in Ames in October 1975 had been the 
key to Jimmy Carter’s rise to prominence. George Bush won a few 
in Iowa, where he was making an intense effort. He won one at a 
Maine Republican convention on November 3 and used a New 
York Times headline on it to raise several hundred thousand dol- 
lars. The real loser in that contest was Senator Howard H. Baker, 
Jr., of Tennessee, who had scheduled his announcement and first 
two days of campaigning to wind up with a victory in Portland. 
Reagan did better two weeks later, taking his opening tour to Kis- 
simmee, Florida, just across the road from Disney World, and 
spoiling John B. ConnaUy’s hopes for a headline from a Florida 
state Republican convention by w innin g handily. ConnaUy fin- 
ished third, behind Bush, after spending more than $300,000 on a 
contest in which no delegates were at stake. 


J30 



THE FINAL CAMPAIGN 


But the Reagan campaign was tiying too hard to stay above 
the battle. The campaign lecalled, in its self-confidence, those 
early 1972 bumper stickers that said, "President Muskie. Don’t 
You Feel Better Already?" That attitude showed when he de- 
clined an invitation to join other Republican candidates in Des 
Moines on January 5, 1980, sixteen days before Iowa Republicans, 
in precinct meetings, would begin the actual process of picking 
delegates to the nominating convention in Detroit in July. The 
others all turned up: Bush, Baker, Crane, Connally, Senator Bob 
Dole of Kansas, and Representative John B. Anderson of Illinois. 
Opinions differed about who actually won the debate, but it was 
clear in the immediate reactions of Iowa Republicans, and then 
from a poll by the Des Moines Register, that Reagan had lost by 
his absence. 


Ducking that debate, on the grounds that it would be divisive, 
was not the on\y refiectioc of a iaVcc-ii*for-granted approach. Rea- 
gan campaigned much less than his rivals did. Despite the conser- 
vatism oflowa Republicanism, and the fact that his own days as a 
sports broadcaster in Davenport and Des Moines left fond memo- 
ries of “Dutch” Reagan, as he was known in the thirties, he lost to 
Bush in those caucuses on January 21. Or at least he probably lost. 
Computer failures and fatigue left the results incomplete, with 
Bush narrowly ahead, when the Iowa Republican Party quit 
counting. 


There was a ragged air to the Reagan campaign in those days. 
In a television interview broadcast Janhary 27, he suggested 
blockading Cuba in retaliation for the Soviet invasion of Afghani- 
stan. In Jacksonville, Florida, three days later, he said that while 
he thought the spread of nuclear weapons to Pakistan was regret- 
table, "I just don’t think it’s any of our business.” Aides tried to 
get him to modify the position and arranged a special briefing or 
reporters, but Reagan stuck to his guns. A few days later he to a 
PoUsh-Italian joke to reporters. One of them had mvited him 
tdh tee story, ’out tee reaCiiDn-wab’KoSffft.'tflryuM- . , , 

But there was also one key change of strategy. j/^New 

to debate other candidates. He agreed to two e a e 


131 



REAGAN THE MAN. THE PRESIDENT 

Hampshire and one in South Carolina, That decision was prob- 
ably necessary to his eventual nomination, but he was also greatly 
assisted by the mistakes of his new rival. TTie Bush campaign was 
not taking advantage of the former C.I.A. chiefs surprise victory 
in Iowa. Polls did show Bush pulling ahead of Reagan in the opin- 
ion of Republicans, but they rarely showed much in the way of 
commitment from the Bush supporters. Bush did not use his 
month of prominence, the period between the Iowa caucuses and 
the New Hampshire primary, to give them any reasons why they 
should be for him, except that he had the “Big Mo” or momentum 
from Iowa and was “Up for the Eighties.” He jogged almost daily, 
and indeed looked more vigorous than Reagan. But as long as 
Reagan was not doddering, that was not enough. Reagan put in 
hard campaign days of his own and celebrated his birthday with a 
public flourish. 

Debates in political campaigns have a way of freezing the ac- 
tion. Their anticipation matters more than the controversies that 
precede them, such as Reagan’s comments on Cuba, or his asser- 
tions that there was more oil in Alaska than almost anywhere. He 
was, in fact, gaining some ground with serious campaigning be- 
fore the first of the New Hampshire debates took place on Febru- 
ary 20 in Manchester, featuring the Iowa cast, plus Reagan. He 
made a strong impression, defending Republican concern with 
“single issues” such as gun control and abortion as an “expression 
of a discontent on the part of the people, a feeling that the old 
traditional values upon which our civilization is built are fading 
away.” Later polling suggested strongly that Reagan had won, but 
at the time most newspaper and television reporters thought no 
one had come out that clearly ahead or behind. 

There was no such uncertainty about the second one, on Feb- 
ruary 23 in Nashua. Reagan and Sears changed the political land- 
scape and made a fool out of Bush. Reagan had agreed to debate 
Bush, plainly his main rival by then, alone in Nashua just three 
days before the first primary on the mainland (Bush had prevailed 
a few days earlier in Puerto Rico, but nobody cared). The other 


132 



THE FINAL CAMTAlCN 


five candidates complained bitterly, saying they were being un- 
fairly excluded from a critical event in a critical state. 

The New Hampshire primary is an odd institution, taking 
place in a state dominated by an intensely right-wing newspaper, 
The Manchester Union-Leader, and one which has a remarkable 
dissimilarity to the nation as a whole, since it is populated almost 
entirely by whites and lacks a single big city. Still, not since the 
primary was initiated in 1952 has anyone been elected President 
without having won in New Hampshire (though some have been 
nominated and then lost the general election). The event gets vast 
television coverage that sets the tone for much of the campaign to 
follow. It has an impact far beyond the twenty-two Republican 
delegates it elects, or 1.1 percent of those who would participate at 
the convention in Detroit. 

The other candidates succeeded in getting the Federal Elec- 
tion Commission to decide that holding the debate would amount 
to an illegal campaign contribution if the Nashua Telegraph went 
ahead with it as planned. So Reagan agreed to pay S3, 500 to rent 
the high school where it was held, and Sears made sure the other 
candidates would be available. Then Reagan invited them to join 
In. Everybody came to Nashua wondering what was going to hap- 
pen, and candidates, campaign managers, and hundreds of report- 
ers milled around the high school in confusion. The newspaper in- 
sisted on keeping the other candidates out, and Bush said he was 
obliged to stick to bis commitment to the paper, whose manage- 
ment was close to Hugh Gregg, a former Governor and Bush’s 
campaign manager. 

So Reagan marched into the ball with four other candidates in 
low, Connally was away campaigning in South Carolina. The 
Telegraph's editor insisted the others could not speak, and tried to 
cut off Reagan’s microphone when he began to explain the situa- 
tion to the confused audience. In one of those moments of politi- 
cally perfect exasperation (such as the “There you go, again’* put- 
down of President Carter e^gbt months later in tbeir ohly debate 
in Cleveland), Reagan pushed on and declared, “I paid for the mi- 


133 



REAGAN THE MAN, THE PRESIDENT 

crophone, Mr, Green." He then told the audience he wanted the 
others in, but the newspaper did not want them, and he had de- 
cided to go ahead because the audience was waiting. That done, 
the others left to hold a joint press conference in which they at- 
tacked Bush for presumption and said he was dividing the party. 
Dole said they had been treated like “second class citizens.” Baker 
contended Bush’s actions “diminished our chances” to beat the 
Democrats. 

It hardly mattered that Reagan easily bested the flustered 
Bush in the debate itself He came across as forceful, decisive, and 
concerned about others. Bush came across as stiff and legalistic. 
And it mattered not at all that the editor’s name was Breen, not 
Green. 

February 26 was a crucial day in the Reagan campaign, but 
not just because of the primary. In the late afternoon Sears was 
fired, and Black and Lake went with him. Reagan was persuaded 
that Sears was not managing the campaign, whatever his talents as 
a strategist. Laxalt and Edwin Meese, III, his chief of staff while 
Governor of California, were the key movers in this coup, a suc- 
cessful counterattack to a move to get rid of Meese. The public ex- 
planation leaned heavily on the dangerous pace at which the cam- 
paign had been spending money, a serious problem because of the 
S18 million Federal spending limit. But there was plainly an un- 
dertone of opposition to Sears both from old retainers of Reagan 
and from conservatives who still resented the Schweiker move in 
1976. Many of them said proudly the next day that without Sears 
around it would now be easier to count on conservative support. 

A few hours later it was clear that Reagan had won a landslide 
victory in New Hampshire, that Bush’s soft support had evapo- 
rated in the last few days. A Aew TorA: Times/CBS News Poll 
made it clear that the Nashua events greatly accelerated Reagan’s 
gains. The Californian got 50 percent of the votes, Bush only 23 
percent. 

Several months later, the ousted Lake would observe that after 
New Hampshire Reagan w'on the nomination “on automatic 


134 



THEnNAUCAMPAJQH 


pilot.” It worked out pretty much that way in the end, but there 
was some turbulence along the wTiy. First, it was not clear whether 
the new campaign team, headed by William J. Casey, a New York 
Republican of Reagan's age, and by Meese, had the skills of Sears 
and Black, especially the ability to respond to suddenly develop- 
ing problems. 

The Sunday morning after the New Hampshire primary it 
looked as if they might have to. Former President Gerald R. Ford 
gave an interview to The ffew York Times in which he invited the 
Republican Party to ask him to get into the race. Ford said he had 
been privately urged by scwal party leaders to get in, though he 
would not name them. (In late October he said Governor Rhodes 
of Ohio had been one of them.) He said Reagan could not win the 
general election because he was “perceived as a most conservative 
Republican.” 

“A very conservative Republican,” he said in the interview in 
his home in Rancho Mirage, California, "can’t win in a national 
election.” 

While Reagan gamely said he would welcome Ford into the 
race, his stalT was worried. It was very late to try, because many 
filing dates for primaries that elected delegates to the Republican 
National Convention had already passed. But they worried that 
Ford could put support and money together in a hurry and out- 
spend them by a wide margin, even winning California’s winner- 
take-all primary. 

There was nothing they could do but sit and wait. Ford con- 
sulted everywhere he went, but found that the support he hoped to 
hear was inaudible. Rhodes, greatly impressed when Reagan 
crushed Connally in the South Carolina primary March 8, then 
urged the former President not to make himself look siliy by a 
foolish quest. On March 15, after a tearful meeting at Rancho Mi- 
rage, Ford announced he would not run. 

The rest of the primary campaign was basically uneventful. 
Bush heat Reagan in Pennsylvania, came surprisiagly close in 
Texas, and then beat him in Michigan in May. But the night of the 





REAGAN THE MAN. THE PRESIDENT 

Michigan primary, to Bush’s dismay, the television networks an- 
nounced that Reagan already had enough delegates to be nomi- 
nated. 

Still, even if he was winning, and occasionally attracting the 
votes of blue-collar workers and nominal Democrats in states like 
Illinois and Wisconsin, he was rarely exceeding 50 percent of the 
vote. Reagan was winning, comfortably enough to have no real 
worry about getting nominated. But he was reaching out in only a 
limited way. In particular, he was not winning votes in the tradi- 
tional Republican suburbs. Bush, who was much more like the in- 
habitants of Bucks County, Pennsylvania, or Birmingham, Michi- 
gan, than Reagan, was getting their votes. 

But Reagan was winning, with an approach that said the na- 
tion’s most troubling problems — inflation, energy, the hostages 
in Iran, even the weakening of family ties — could be solved, rela- 
tively easUy. About the only consistent specific was his call for 10 
percent Federal income tax cuts in each of the next three years. 
Generally, his prescription, again and again, was for government 
to get out of the way. In Greensburg, Pennsylvania, on April 10, 
he talked about energy in the same way he talked about other 
issues, and asked rhetorically, “Does it take a genius to figure out 
that the answer to our having all we need and no more being de- 
pendent on OPEC is to turn the energy industry loose to produce 
all the natural oil and the natural gas that is to be found here?” 
Inflation, he had insisted in Amarillo, Texas, the day before, and 
repeated wherever he went, was caused by government spending. 
“Government causes inflation. We’ve got to mak^ the government 
make it go away.” 

Although there were decisions to be made about how to ex- 
pand the staff, and plans to start making for the fall, by the time 
June 3 came, signaling the end of the primaries, there was only 

one important decision to be made that had a deadline on it the 

choice of a vice-presidential candidate. Again, as in 1976, Reagan 
approached it with little obeisance to tradition. In 1976, the 
Schweiker ploy had been a gamble of necesaty. In 1980, the Ford 


136 



THE FWAl CAI«>A10N 


Opening always had a perfectly safe fallback position in the even- 
tual choice of Bush. 

It was a bold idea, to be sure, lo get a former President to 
agree to run for Vice-President, especially after he had considered 
running against Reagan for the nomination himself. Reagan 
plainly beUeved that Ford would give him the best chance of win- 
ning, a view his poUtaker, Richard Wirthlin, and many of his 
other advisers shared. 

To get him. Reagan tried to overcome the former President’s 
fears about demeaning his former office with the trivialities of sec- 
ond place. He tried to offer Ford real power, a supervisory role at 
the White House over some of the functions of government. There 
remain some disagreements about what went on in Detroit on 
July 16. The basic dispute is over how much the Ford people, 
especially Henry A. Kissinger, the former Secretary of State, 
asked for and how much Reagan’s negotiators offered without 
being asked. But none of those arguments, even if the record is 
ever completed, reach to what Reagan’s bottom line would have 
been (or Ford’s either). 

At the least, the whole exercise displayed a remarkably naive 
hopefulness about deciding very deep questions regarding the 
heart of the Federal government on a preposterously short timeta- 
ble. It had one significant side effect, that of burying Ford's 
doubts about Reagan and lifting his level of trust to the point 
where he campaigned continually for Reagan in the fall. (Ford’s 
disdain for Carter played perhaps an even greater role in that ef- 
fort, but he cheerfully disavow^ his previous criticisms of Rea- 
gan as someone with a “penchant for offering simplistic solutions 
to hideously complex problems.”) Ford’s altitude about the failed 
efforts in Detroit, in retrospect, is that everything really worked 
out quite well with the eventual choice of Bush. He said of Rea- 
gan’s initiative, “I don’t fault him for wanting to try, I think it 
shows some innovativeness. He made a very good faith effort. But 

hours in a convention atmosphere was just too much.” 


137 



REAGAN THE MAN, THE PRESIDENT 

This initiative, and the Schweiker move too, are interesting 
and perhaps significant because they seem to reflect the approach 
of a politician who came to his trade rather late in life, wit ou 
having been brought up to believe that there were unbreakable 
taboos in poUtics. “Certainly he has a respect for tradition, said 
William French Smith, “but not for tradition’s sake. If t^iere is 
some good reason to depart, he says, ‘Well, why not? r, as 
Sears put it, “If you came to him with a different idea, e never 
told you, ‘Things just aren’t done that way.’ He asked you to ex- 
plain, and if your idea was convincing, he would buy it.” 

The vice-presidential confusion, with messages gomg bacK 
and forth from the top floor to the one below in the gliste^g 
modem Detroit Plaza Hotel (“Henry Ford’s bowling tropdy, 
some Detroiters call it), and all manner of rumor on the conven- 
tion floor Wednesday night, at least brought the thirty-second Ke- 
pubUcan National Convention to life. There was Ford, talkmg 
with Walter Cronkite about a “co-Presidency.” Any number o 
lawyers, from William French Smith to Ford’s own ally, John u. 
Marsh, were dealing with the constitutional issue °f 
mates resident in the same state. Some Reagan aides, like o - 
ziger (who had returned as press secretary), were afrai t a 
Meese and Wirthlin were being tricked by Kissinger. Bush waite 
gamely at another hotel, the Pontchartrain, and then, to snr 
prise, got the word. Laxalt, who wanted Ford but considere 
self a good second choice, exploded when told the decision 
been made for Bush and didn’t bother to listen to ® 

ceptance address the next night. The Chicago Sun-Times ea 
proclaiming the Ford decision to accept became a collectors i em. 
The New York Times simply held its second edition press r^ un 
things became clear, as they did when Reagan brought us o 
the hall, introduced him as his running choice, and atteste to 

belief in the platform. ir ■ 1 

Otherwise, the convention had some right-wing self-m u 
gence with a platform that dropped forty years of more or ess 
consistent support of the Equal Rights Amendment and favored a 
constitutional amendment prohibiting abortions, along with Fe 


138 



THE FWAL CAMPAIGN 


cral judges who were against them. It called for repeal of the 55- 
mile-per-hour speed limit, and hailed the private automobile as a 
vital symbol of “personal mobility and freedom.” But at the same 
time its economic policy was decidedly more progressive, more 
concerned with unemployment in particular, than most such 
documents. 

Reagan’s acceptance address, capably delivered, had almost 
no lines in it that were faintly memorable. He began with a pledge 
of support for equal rights for women (but not the amendment) 
and ended up quoting Franklin Delano Roosevelt (on reducing 
the size of the Federal government). It was good politics, and good 
television, but it was still the Wednesday night circus that recalled 
H.L. Mencken, writing in 1924: “There is something about a na- 
tional convention that makes it as fascinating as a revival or a 
hanging. It is vulgar, it is ugly, it is stupid, it is tedious, it’s bard 
upon both the cerebral centers and the gluteus maximus, and yet it 
is somehow charming. One sits through long sessions wishing 
heartily that all the delegates were dead and in bell and then sud- 
denly there comes a show so gaudy and hilarious, so melodra- 
matic and obscene, so unimaginably exhilarating and preposter- 
ous that one lives a gorgeous year in an hour.” 

It is easy to exaggerate the importance of anyone’s strategy in 
assessing the outcome of the 1980 presidential election. It was not 
decided by Carter’s campaign mistakes or by Reagan’s brilliance, 
much less that of their ad men. pollsters, and other advisers, no 
matter how important those wortWes think themselves. 

The simple fact is the nation bad an unpopular Democratic 
President, whose accomplishments lay in areas where no votes 
were to be found (the Panama Canal Treaties, or even the Camp 
David Agreement) and whose failures, especially unemployment, 
most hurt the Northern, big-city voters without whom no Demo- 
crat can expect to win. He never found a way to concede failures 
in his first term, and while be groped for ways to convey a vision 
for the future, it always sounded more like a blueprint than a vi- 
sion. He had come through a bitter fight for his nomination with- 


139 



REAGAN THE MAN, THE PRESIDENT 

out ever conceding enough to the losers to win their allegiance. 
They came back, by and large, but to beat Reagan, not to win for 
Carter. He had the odd feature of John B. Anderson’s independ- 
ent candidacy to contend with, too, and it appeared that Anderson 
drew more support from potential Carter voters than from those 
who might have been Reagan’s. The Republicans were better or- 
ganized than the Democrats in much of the country, and took ad- 
vantage of the quirks of the Federal election law to spend more 
money. Most of all, the electoral vote charts made it clear all 
along that Carter had to win more of the close states with big 
chunks of electoral votes than did Reagan. 

The Reagan strategy really required a steady, calm approach 
in which, despite all the criticisms that were heard about the folly 
of “sitting on a lead,” it made sense to do pretty much just that, 
even when the lead looked very narrow in terms of national polls. 
It was a very slow-moving campaign, in which both vote percent- 
ages and perceptions of candidates hardly changed from Labor 
Day to late October. The public seemed anything but delighted 
with its choice of candidates. But Reagan (“the ultimate, laid-back 
Californian,” as David Keene once called him) had the personal- 
ity to stick with imexciting advice and win with it. 

The first element of that approach involved not saying any- 
thing stupid, not giving the Carter side a chance to label the chal- 
lenger as too dumb or too ignorant for the job he sought. Reagan, 
whose 1976 campaign was doited with observations better left un- 
said, had avoided this problem pretty well in 1980. There was a 
period in April when he couldn’t seem to get facts straight on such 
matters as the GI Bill of Rights, but it all seemed rather triv ial 

In August, however, Reagan kept saying awkward things. As 
Bush was dispatched to China in a move to show the Chinese that 
they could live with conservative Republicans who had opposed 
the terms on which fixll diplomatic relations were established by. 
Carter in 1978, Reagan began emphasizing how highly he re- 
garded Taiwan and talked of reestablishing “official” relations 
with that island. Then, attending a born-again Christians’ conven- 
tion in Dallas, Reagan said at a press conference that legitimate 


140 



THE FINAL CAMPAIGN 


doubts had been raised about the Darwinian theory of evolution, 
and he believed competing theories should be taught in the 
schools, too. And in Chicago he told the Veterans of Foreign Wars 
that the war in Vietnam was & “noble cause.” Reagan seemed 
willing, in short, to chase after porcupines and revive old causes, 
issues of 1924, 1952, and 1968 on which no one was going to vote 
in 1980, unless they voted against a sixty-nine-year-old candidate 
who seemed fascinated with old issues. 

Perhaps even more important than any direct negative reac- 
tion to these comments was that they were a distraction. If there 
was one sure way to beat Jimmy Carter, it was to keep attention 
focused on the economy. In August Reagan didn’t do that. 

But in August it may not have mattered. Traditionally, a 
presidential election begins in earnest on Labor Day. And on 
Labor Day Reagan was at hts best at Liberty Stale Park in Jersey 
City, talking about the greatness of America with the Statue of 
Liberty and EUis Island behind him, and assailing Carter on the 
economy. He did it, in particular, with one favorite line that 
played on criticism of his caUiog the situation a ‘‘depression” the 
week before. (He always attributed the criticism to Carter, in fact 
it came from his own advisers.) Reagan said, “Recession is when 
your neighbor loses his job. Depression is when you lose yours. 
And recovery is when Jimmy Carter loses his.” 

That was the message on the evening television news, that and 
a staged backyard barbecue svitb workers, some unemployed, in 
Detroit But (hen at the Michigan State Fair he hit out at Carter 
and said of the President's appearance that day in Tuscumbia, 
Alabama, “He’s opening his campaign in the city that gave birth 
to and is the parent body of the Ku Klux Klan.” Carter jumped 
on the statement and so, spontaneously, did several Southern 
Governors. Reagan apologized quickly, but it still seemed to more 
than a few Southerners that he was willing to sacrifice their self- 
esteem for votes somewhere else. 

But that was the last time Reagan said something that really 
hurt Mm He did proclaim the mr pollution problem under control 
in Ohio, and then had his airplane diverted when returning to 


Nt 



REAGAN THE MAN. THE PRESIDENT 

California because of the worst smog in years. He said a number 
of things that were just plain not true as the campaign went on, 
such as denying that, he ever proposed making Social Security 
voluntary or that he said nuclear nonproliferation was none of the 
United States’ business. But he never really got in trouble again, 
and one shrewd long-term observer of Reagan campaigns, Lou 
Cannon of The Washington Post, pointed out that in every race he 
had ever run, Reagan had begun badly. 

The second key piece of the Reagan strategy was to deflect 
Carter’s criticism, especially the line of attack that suggested Rea- 
gan was, as the Californian once put it, some sort of “mad bomb- 
er.” This was the single most clearly telegraphed punch of the 
campaign, and, even so, it had an impact. In late October, a New 
York Times/CBS News Poll found 39 percent of the public an- 
swered yes when asked, “Do you think that if Ronald Reagan 
were elected President in 1980, he would get us into a war?” 

The Reagan forces fought this theme in various ways. Their 
first television commercial of the fall had Reagan telling the cam- 
era, “Of all the objectives we seek, first and foremost is the estab- 
lishment of world peace.” Much later, he bought half an hour of 
national television time to talk about foreign policy and defense 
without seeming scary. 

But probably their most effective weapon in deflecting this 
criticism, and another, that Reagan was a racist, was Carter him- 
self. The President overdid the attack. Once in a while, he did it 
well, arguing that Reagan’s history of talking about using force in 
one crisis after another was itself a threat to international stability. 
But he got more attention when he went further, as when he told a 
Torrance, California, audience on September 22 that by their 
votes “you wiU determine what kind of life you and your families 
will have, whether this nation will make progress or go backward, 
and whether we have peace or war.” Reagan snapped back that 
this attack was “beneath decency.” 

But he did even better when Carter charged that Reagan’s 
election could mean that “Americans might, be separated, blacks 
from whites, Jews from Christians, North from South, rural from 


142 



THE FINAL CAMPAIGN 


urban." It wasn’t a tough part for a skilled movie actor, and Rea- 
gan made the most of it when he replied, on all networks, “I can’t 
be angry. I’m saddened that anyone, particularly someone who 
has held that position, could intimate such a thing, and I’m not 
asking for an apology from him. I know who I have to account to 
for my actions. But I think he owes the country an apology.” 

Reagan has a maimer that contradicts the simple text of many 
of the things he says. He doesn’t look like a mad bomber. Ulti- 
mately, the best device the Reagan forces had for countering the 
warmonger attack was Reagan’s own manner in the October 28 
debate. The percentage of Americans who said they feared war if 
he was elected dropped from 39 before the debate to 31 percent 
afterward. 

A third element was to simply not panic. National polls 
showed the race very close, and occasionally even put Carter 
ahead. Inside the Reagan camp it was important to remember that 
the election was not one national vote, but fifty-one separate elec- 
tions choosing 538 electors. Their calculations of that electoral 
vole never showed them behind. By and large they remembered 
and did not react hastily. 

What they feared most was an “October surprise” in foreign 
policy, most of all the return of the hostages from Iran, an issue 
that had served Carter well in the pnmaries. When something 
seemed to be happening in mid-October, Reagan attacked Carter 
for tolerating the continuing captivity, while other Republicans 
laid a covering fire of accusations suggesting Carter was manipu- 
lating the issue to win votes. Reagan generally took the high road, 
proclaiming at the Alfred E. Smith Dinner m New York that, 
whatever the political impact, “no one in America will rejoice 
more than I” at their return. He consistently responded cautiously. 
When an agreement on return appeared imminent on the last day 
of the campaign, he prepared but did not use language for a na- 
tional television speech that dealt with the issue. Instead, he stuck 
fargefycj the economy. 

But not panicking does not mean never changing what you’re 
doing. For several weeks, it seemed that the Reagan campaign 


UJ 



REAGAN THE MAN, THE PRESIDENT 

thought it did. Then, in one week in mid-October, Reagan ^me 
out with a promise to put a woman on the Supreme Court and 
with the decision to debate Carter. Earlier, he had wanted a three- 
way debate, including Anderson, for the same reason that Carter 
had opposed one. His staff figured that Anderson would hurt Car- 
ter most. When Reagan and Anderson debated in Baltimore on 
September 21, Reagan profited most, not from any particular spe- 
cific argument he made, but from his inspirational closing argu- 
ment: “Some people in high positions of leadership tell us that the 
answer is to retreat, that the best is over. For 200 years we’ve lived 
in the future, believing that tomorrow would be better than today 
and today would be better than yesterday. I still believe that. I’m 
not r unnin g for the Presidency because I believe I can solve the 
problems we’ve discussed tonight. I believe the people of this 
country can.” 

But the gains he made in terms of public impressions of him, 
on qu,estions like whether he understood the complicated prob- 
lems of the White House, had largely worn off by late October. 
The agreement to accept a revised invitation from the League of 
Women Voters, at the very moment when Carter’s advisers were 
trying to devise a way to get out of their long-standing demand for 
a one-on-one debate, was a matter of considerable argument 
within the Reagan camp. Some saw no reason to take a chance. 
Others, including Reagan in particular, thought there was no rea- 
son to fear a debate with Carter. 

All year long, the Carter forces had licked their chops in an- 
ticipation of getting the President, with his command of detail, in 
a debate with Reagan. They were sure he would seem more presi- 
dential and Reagan would seem foolish. No matter that George 
Bush and Howard Baker had thought the same. The night of the 
confrontation in Cleveland, however, Carter had more details, 
and more accuracy for that matter, but it was Reagan’s manner 
that was plainly most effective. He sounded reasonable and in 
control. Carter sounded anxious, pressing. 

It was hardly a brilliant exposition of national policy. Carter's 
citation of daughter .Amy as authority for the importance of nu- 





THE FINAL CAMPAIGN 

clear weaponry as a campaign issue, and his metaphor of a conti- 
nent-wide railroad train with fifty tons of TNT in each car for a 
fifty megaton nuclear bomb was no less inspiring than Reagan’s 
metaphor for joblessness; “If all the unemployed today were in a 
single line, allowing two feet for each one of them, that line would 
reach from New York City to Los Angeles, California.” 

But debating points seem to matter less than impressions of 
personalities in such debates. As in 1960 and 1976, the challenger 
established himself in a debate with either the incumbent Presi- 
dent or Vice-President. 

Besides his style, Reagan did finally manage, after eight weeks 
of mote failures than successes, to make the economy the issue. It 
wasn’t that infiatioa and unemployment were not affecting 
choices of presidential candidates. It is clear that they were, all 
along, with Carter losing plenty of Democratic and Independent 
voters who thought they were worse off financially than a year 
earlier. But the other issues, the ones that helped Reagan and the 
ones that hurl him, had rarely permitted economic questions to 
lead the evening television news two days in a row. In the debate, 
Reagan fixed that. Talking of the decision to be made on Election 
Day, he said; “I think when you make that decision it might be 
well if you could ask yourself, arc you better oft than you were 
four years ago? Is it easier for you to go and buy things in the 
stores than it was four years ago? Is there more or less unemploy- 
ment in the country than there was four years ago?” 

Reagan’s solutions, which Carter said were “completely irre- 
sponsible and would result in inflationary pressures which would 
destroy this nation," did not matter. He had invited the nation to 
conduct a referendum on limmy Carter. One week later, the na- 
tion took him up on it, and in a landslide Ronald Wilson Reagan 
was elected the fortieth President of the United States. 


145 



IX 


Mr. Reagan 
Goes to Washington 

Hedrick Smith 


On Eltction Day, Ronald ,^^1; voted on paper hai- 
red shirt and she in i„ Pacinc Palisades is 

lots in a neighbor’s home. Th” P j^dave that there are no 
such a small and exclustve re -laces Lawrence Welk. the 
public buildings to serve as ® P but Sylvester Stal- 

band leader, voted a btt J, ahown up by the time 

lone, the movie actor and direct , 

they left. W a haircut, shme. and manicure at 

A bit later, Reagan had a hairw , 

DruckePs Barber Shop m ®'"' J and Mtke Deaver, two 

salad, iced tea, and tee md " one began to talk of 

of his closest poUUcal atdes. Wh knocked on wood or 

victory or transition A' ““ 

refusedtojoinin,notwantmgtoj ^ Wirthlin, dropped by 

In mid-afternoon hts pollster, electoral land- 

Reagan’s house to give him 5t30 P.M., Pacifle time, 

sUde that was in the maki^. Sh y Reagan 

fairly soon after the East Court poUs had oeg 


147 



REAGAN THE MAN, THE PRESIDENT 

was in the shower when Jimmy Carter called. Deaver went to get 
him. Reagan stepped out of the shower and wrapped a towel 
around himself as he took the phone to accept the personal con- 
cession and congratulations of the thirty-ninth President of the 
United States. 

There, in that stark instant, this son of a shoe salesman from 
Tampico, Illinois, this former actor whose greatest ambition in his 
youth had been to become a play-by-play announcer for the Chi- 
cago Cubs, was transformed into the most powerful political fig- 
ure in the world. This was the climax of an unorthodox political 
odyssey that began fifteen years earlier, when, at the age of fifty- 
four, Reagan was persuaded by his California business friends to 
enter the political arena and run for Governor. Three times he 
tried for the Presidency, and twice he failed. Now, at the age of 
sixty-nine, he had become the oldest man in American history to 
stand at the threshold of that awesome office. 

His electoral campaign was a stunning success. He had stolen 
Jimmy Carter’s Southern base, smashed the incumbent’s expected 
strength in the East, and taken command of the battleground 
states of the Middle West. The entire West had gone for him, as 
expected, to complete the rout. More than that, on Reagan’s coat- 
tails and on the tide of an overwhelming vote of protest against 
Carter and the Democrats, the Republican Party had sailed into 
control of the Senate for the first time in twenty-six years, gaining 
twelve new Senate seats plus thirty-three in the House of Repre- 
sentatives. Although the Democrats still had control of the House, 
Reagan could anticipate a conservative philosophical majority in 
that chamber. In one day, the political map of America had been 
redrawn, and Reagan now dominated the national landscape. 

That night, at the victory celebration in the glittering ballroom 
of the Century Plaza Hotel in Los Angeles, the ebullient, smiling, 
handsome new President-elect took his bows and shared some 
thoughts about the Presidency. 

“Do you know,’’ he told his delirious partisans, “Abe Lincoln, 
the day after his election to the Presidency, gathered in his oftlcc 
the newsmen who had been covering his campaign and he said to 


148 



MR. REAOAN COES TO WASHINGTON 

them: *WeU, boys, your troubles are over now, mine have just 
begun.* I thinh I know what he meant. Lincoln may have been 
concerned in the troubled times in which he became President. 
But I don’t think he was afraid. And I am not frightened by what 
lies ahead and I don’t believe the American people are frightened 
by what lies ahead. Together, we’re going to do what has to be 
done. We’re going to put America back to work again.” 

It was risky of Reagan to invite such exalted comparisons and 
to set up such high expectations. For those with an car for Ameri- 
can political history heard not only the voice of Lincoln but also a 
subliminal echo of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Reagan’s early 
hero, telling a generation of downhearted Americans half a cen- 
tury ago to take courage for, ”We have nothing to fear but fear 
itself,” and of John F. Kennedy, in his high, choppy Boston ac- 
cent, declaring in 1960 that it was high time to "get America mov- 
ing again.” 

Campaigning for the Presidency, Reagan often evoked FDR, 
asking, in effect, to be seen as the leader of a new political revolu- 
tion, the father of a conservative renaissance that will radically 
alter the American concept of governing as Roosevelt did with the 
New Deal. Repeatedly, Reagan had made the point that it is he 
who kept the true faith with the original Roosevelt, who cam- 
paigned in 1932 on the promise that government "costs too much” 
and that “we must abolish useless offices,” while the Roosevelt 
who look office changed course and launched an era of govern- 
mental growth and activism that Reagan has spent the latter half 
of his lifetime opposing. 

Reagan’s supporters relish the notion that he could become a 
conservative Republican version of Roosevelt. "I divide American 
Presidents into journeymen Presidents who run the machine and 
make it go, and symbolic Presidents who make radical changes,” 
says Senator Howard Baker of Tennessee, the new Republican 
Majority Leader. “Ford and Carter, and even Truman and John- 
son, were journeymen Presidents. Roosevelt and Nixon were sym- 
bolic Presidents. Nixon made drastic changes in foreign policy. He 
was trying to rearrange the world, alter the status quo. Roosevelt 


J49 



REAGAN THE MAN. THE PRESIDENT 

made fundamental changes in domestic affairs until World War II 
came along. I think Reagan will be a symbolic President. I do 
think he’ll make a sustained drive to change the size and cost of 
government. I do think he’ll try to change the system of delivering 
government services and sending Federal aid and categorical 
grants to localities. His tax policy is fundamentally different. And 
what also marks him as different is his ability to go to the people 
and mobilize public support. Nixon didn’t have that, but Roose- 
velt did.” 

Some presidential scholars, such as James David Barber of 
Duke University, discount Reagan’s upbeat speechifying as sim- 
plistic and unrealistic cheerleading without solid purpose and vi- 
sion. They expect him to be a fairly passive President, a throw- 
back to the conservative, pro-business quietism of Warren G. 
Harding or William Howard Taft. “He’s a ‘Music Man’ who goes 
around encouraging people and who wants the affection of the 
public,” says Barber. “His danger is that he’s so open to political 
sharks.” However, other scholars, such as Tom Cronin of Colo- 
rado College, sense a whiff of the Kennedy magic and glamour in 
Reagan’s rhetoric and his political presence. 

“John F. Kennedy had a way with words, a way of talking 
about issues in simple terms that made them interesting and got 
people to listen,” says Cronin. “Reagan has that knack, too. And, 
like Kermedy, there is a contagious optimism about him. In the 
presidential debates, Kennedy and Reagan didn’t really win on 
substance, but on appearance. People liked Kennedy, and I have a 
hunch they’ll like Reagan. He realizes there’s a morale problem in 
this country and he addresses it. The country can be quite taken 
by a guy who can give a fireside speech with a can-do spirit.” 

Of course, no stereotype fits. Reagan is a composite of some of 
his predecessors and something entirely new. He is closest of all to 
Dwight Eisenhower in tone, style, and perhaps even outlook, for 
both have brought to the Presidency the uncomplicated outlook of 
Small-Town America, an unbounded faith in free enterprise, su- 
preme confidence in the judgment of businessmen, and the citizen 
politician’s disdain for the excesses of government. 


/sn 



MR. BEAOAKCOESro WASHINGTON 


Like the heroic generaL Reagan tikes to set out the broad 
philosophical lines of his administratton and to operate in the 
lughly structured corporate s^le of a board chairman or a su- 
preme commander making major decisions in the company of a 
small group of close advisers, entrusting substantial power to key 
Cabinet officers and aides and generally keeping himself above 
the political fray of the moment 

Nothing illustrates more convincingly Reagan’s willingness, 
indeed his preference, for delegating executive authority to subor- 
dinates than his entering into negotiations with former President 
Ford at the Republican Convention last July for some kind of 
“super Vice-Presidency” as an inducement to get Ford to join the 
Reagan ticket. Ford's concept was that Reagan, as President, 
would be the chief executive officer of the government, the final 
authority who makes all the decisions, and that Ford, as Vice- 
President, would be the chief operating oificer of the administra- 
tion, implementing presidential decisions, supervising the White 
House staff, and making government work. 

In principle, the idea appealed to Reagan’s concept of execu- 
tive organization as well as to his pragmatic political desire to 
have (he strongest possible running mate. He showed common 
sense when he balked at suggestions for shared powers that threat- 
ened to dismantle his Presidency before it was won. But the whole 
concept harked back (o Eisenhower’s method of parceling out im- 
portant powers to principal advisers such as Sherman Adams, his 
chief of staff, and Secretary of State John Foster Dulles, who 
often acted as his deputies with presidential authority. 

Although no stepping-stone is an adequate test for (he White 
House, Reagan seems as comfortable as Eisenhower with the fun- 
damental, personal responsibility of the Presidency. He has never 
appeared to strain himself, as Carter often did, but knowing him- 
self, he projects an easy, natural, inner confidence in his own ca- 
pacity for leadership. His roots, like Ike’s, are in the American 
ieartlaDxL the farm counliy of the Middle West and those roots 
are never very far from the surface. For all his Hollywood back- 
ground and his coterie of millionnaire California friends, Reagan, 


ISl 



REAGAN THE MAN. THE PRESIDENT 

like Eisenhower, has the simple tastes, gee-whiz grin, and open 
charm of the boy next door. 

On camera or on the stump, Reagan can be magical in his ap- 
peal. He projects as a highly moral, honest, sincere, and purpose- 
ful citizen-politician. He exudes an air of simple virtue. His 
aw-shucks manner and charming good looks disarm those who 
from a distance have thought of him as a far-right fanatic. He 
comes across as patently unmalicious, whatever he says. Face-to- 
face with the the public, his ability to reduce problems to simple 
propositions has common sense appeal. In that, he is like Eisen- 
hower, even occasionally with Eisenhower’s scrambled syntax. 

Politically, Reagan is straightforward, uncomplicated, and 
even naive, though, as with Ike, there can be guile behind his 
seemingly artless ways. Just as often, his open candor and his 
naivete have gotten him into hot water. For example, his loose- 
lipped directness on Vietnam and Taiwan gave him trouble dur- 
ing the campaign, and he suffered political embarrassment by 
having his negotiations with Gerald Ford rise and fall so dramati- 
cally and publicly when a more calculating politician would have 
kept that drama Wdden behind the scenes. 

Reagan’s success, however, derives not from a great mastery 
of political maneuvering and coalition-building through long 
links to the fraternity of professional politicians. Like Eisenhower, 
he has sound, quick political instincts; the appeal of political ama- 
teurism and sincerity; and the ability to communicate over the 
heads of other politicians to the people. 

Initially, Reagan’s advisers intend him to set a fast pace in the 
White House, in part perhaps to counteract the Eisenhower 
stereotype. But temperamentally, Reagan seems far more inclined 
to the modest pace of the Eisenhower Presidency than the throb- 
bing programmatic activism of FDR or Lyndon Johnson. 

Eager to offset public worries about his age, Reagan cam- 
paigned long and hard from Labor Day to Election Day. As Gov- 
ernor of California, he occasionally worked late with the Legisla- 
ture, but his natural rhythm was the 9:00-to-5:00 day with lights 
out around 1 1:00 P.M. — though the modem Presidency rarely 


152 



MR. REAGAN GOES TO WASHINGTON 

accommodates so light a schedule. Over time, Reagan paces him- 
self carefully and makes most decisions quickly, without agoniz- 
ing unduly over them. Unlike Carter, he leaves the details to 
others and takes time to relax. 

His style fits his outlook. Philosophically, Reagan’s view of 
government turns on the libertarian axiom that the best govern- 
ment is the one that governs least. One of the lines he delivered 
most fervently and with greatest effect during the campaign was 
the persistent pledge to “get government off the people’s backs.’’ 
Unabashedly, he says he admires not only Eisenhower but “Silent 
Cal” Coolidge whose characteristically plainspoken motto for the 
1920s was; “The business of America is business.” 

“Many people have the erroneous impression that those two 
spent mote time golfing and relaxing than being President,” Rea- 
gan remarked to an interviewer last summer. “They forget to look 
at the record of those years — prosperity, peace, and no inflation. 
Maybe I can sum it up with the words in a little plaque on my 
desk: ’You can accomplish much if you don’t mind who gets the 
CTedit.' ” 

On at least two critical points, Reagan differs with Eisenhow- 
er. In the field of foreign policy, one gaping vulnerability of the 
former California Governor is that he lacks the long wartime ex- 
perience that won Eisenhower automatic public confidence in 
matters of war and peace, that kept Eisenhower from entering the 
first Vietnam War in 1954 when some Pentagon leaders were urg- 
ing it, and that left Eisenhower permanently wary of the influence 
of the military-industrial complex. 

The other major difference is that Eisenhower was drafted 
into politics as a national war hero at a time when the public 
wanted the relief of normalcy. Reagan enters the President as the 
spokesman for a political crusade at a time of national unease, of 
public cynicism, and of uncertainty about whether this nation can 
control its own destiny. With Iheir friendly Dutch uncle manner, 
both Reagan and Eisenhower have been reassuring to the nation. 
But Eisenhower had no personal cause and Reagan has been lead- 
ing one for nearly two decades. 



REAGAN THE MAN. THE PRESIDENT 

His purpose is to stir the sleeping giant of America back to a 
sense of its manifest destiny, to oversee the restoration of an eco- 
nomically robust and militarily sturdy nation active in the world 
arena, and to rekindle the rawhide heroism and patriotic pride of 
John Wayne. His strategy is to roll back the Federal establishment 
with tax cuts, spending cuts, personnel cuts, and cutbacks in regu- 
lations that he believes will release the productive energies of free 
enterprise. His faith is that this nation can literally work its way 
out of the debilitating inflation that has it in enthrall. His instinct 
is to summon citizen task forces to fight the huge Federal establish- 
ment with the zesty irreverence of the Boston Tea Party. It is a tall 
order, many say unrealistically tall or ill-advised, but it is the vi- 
sion that moves and animates Ronald Reagan. 

“Many Americans today, just as they did 200 years ago, feel 
burdened, stifled, and sometimes even oppressed by government 
that has grown too large, too bureaucratic, too wasteful, too unre- 
sponsive, too uncaring about people and their problems,” Reagan 
said on the eve of his election, in one of his most eloquent cam- 
paign speeches. 

“I believe we can embark on a new age of reform in this coim- 
try and an era of national renewal,” he went on, “an era that will 
reorder the relationship between citizen and government, that will 
make government again responsive to people, that will revitalize 
the values of family, work, and neighborhood and that will restore 
our private and independent social institutions. These institutions 
always have served as both buffer and bridge between the individ- 
ual and the state — and these institutions, not government, are the 
real sources of our economic and social progress as a people. 

“That’s why I’ve said throughout this campaign that we must 
control and limit the growth of Federal spending, that we must re- 
duce tax rates to stimulate work and savings and investment. 
That’s why I’ve said we can relieve labor and business of burden- 
some, uimecessaiy regulations and still maintain high standards of 
environmental and occupational safety. 

“That’s why I’ve said we can reduce the cost of government by 
eliminating billions lost to waste and fraud in the Federal bu- 


154 



MR. REAOAN GOES TO WASHINGTON 

reaucracy — a problem that is now an unrclcatiag national scan- 
dal. And because we arc a federation of sovereign states, we can 
restore the health and vitality of state and local governments by 
returning to them control over programs best run at those levels of 
government closer to the people. We can fight corruption while 
we work to bring into our government women and men of compe- 
tence and high integrity.” 

Clearly, Reagan has his eye set on leading the Conservative 
Reformation, the reversal of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s revolution- 
ary New Deal, which Reagan himself once admired. Yet there is a 
dilemma inherent in his assertion of presidential leadership for his 
cause and the fierce individualism that permeates his thinking. 
His philosophical impulse is to foster the centrifugal forces that 
make national leadership so difficult today, but his political strat- 
egy requires a single-minded discipline to follow policies — espe- 
cially economic poUdes — that has hitherto proven impossible for 
modem administrations and Congresses. 

At the Republican Convention, Reagan touched upon a cen- 
tral flaw in the American system that symbolically entrusts so 
much responsibility (o one man at the apex of power but deliber- 
ately hems him in with constitutional balances, compounded now 
by the fragmentation of power in Congress and the more subtle 
but no less palpable public distrust of authority which Reagan 
himself has long articulated. In accepting his party’s nomination, 
Reagan called upon the electorate to reject Jimmy Carter’s ‘‘Trust 
me” government that “asks that we concentrate our hopes and 
dreams on one man; that we trust him to do what’s best for us.” 
Reagan’s own view of government, be said much more vaguely, 
‘‘places trust not in one person or one party, but in those values 
that transcend persons and parties. The trust is where it belongs — 
in the people.” 

One fundamental test for Reagan will be how broadly or how 
narrowly he interprets the people’s trust, how broadly or how nar- 
rowly be governs. Will he nourish the powers of the Presidency by 
reaching out continuously to broaden his .governing coalition or 


J53 



REAGAN THE MAN, THE PRESIDENT 

will he be pushed back into a New Rich narrowness that will 
shrink his base? Will he adjust pragmatically to political realities 
or break his lance on doctrinaire implementation of his pet ideas, 
however impolitic? Will he prove firm enough to project a clear 
and constant vision and yet flexible enough so that ideological ri- 
gidity does not engender stalemates that jeopardize his major ob- 
jectives? 

It is tempting for the Reagan entourage and its right-wing co- 
horts in Congress to claim an electoral mandate for a full menu of 
conservative measures in every field. It is also tempting for them 
to contend that Reagan’s lopsided electoral landslide and the 
change of climate in Congress will enable them to roll over the 
Democratic opposition, presumably made pliable by the resound- 
ing defeats of prominent liberals such as Senator George McGov- 
ern of South Dakota, the, 1972 presidential nominee; Senator 
Frank Church of Idaho, Chairman of the Senate Foreign Rela- 
tions Committee; and half a dozen others. With a fifty-three to 
forty-seven Republican majority in the Senate, the new adminis- 
tration can look forward to working with such Republican conser- 
vatives as Strom Thurmond of South Carolina at the head of the 
SenateJudiciary Committee; Barry Goldwater of Arizona, the In- 
telligence Committee; Pete Domenici of New Mexico, the Budget 
Committee; Jesse Helms of North Carolina, the Agriculture Com- 
mittee; and Jake Gam of Utah, the Banking Committee. 

The liberal losses in the Senate and the addition of Republi- 
can conservatives from Alabama, Idaho, Florida, Oklahoma, and 
elsewhere have fueled euphoric talk about a tidal wave of conser- 
vativism which gives the new President the political clout to do 
pretty much as he pleases. But Reagan cannot afford the luxury of 
such, an easy interpretation. 

A closer look at the election returns reveals that his own popu- 
lar vote total was 5 1 percent of the smallest turnout of voters in 
terms of percentage since 1948 — 52.4 percent of the eligible elec- 
torate. That makes Reagan the active choice of only 26.7 percent 
of the adult population. His popular vote percentage was the sev- 
enth lowest in twenty presidential elections in this century', and 


156 



MR. REAOAN GOES TO WASHINGTON 

more than three out often who voted Republican in the presiden- 
tial race told pollsters their primary motive was voting out Jimmy 
Carter rather than voting in Ronald Reagan. 

Moreover, the Democrats still have a fifty-one-votc margin in 
the House and the Republican majority in the Senate is so slender 
that Reagan will need the Republican moderates and sometimes 
even party liberals in both houses to prevail on critical issues. His 
shrewdest political advisers have not missed noting that important 
Senate liberals survived in states such as California, Colorado, 
Vermont, Oregon, and Maryland and new Republican moderates 
won in Georgia. Indiana, Wisconsin, and Washington. In essence, 
it was more a Republican party triumph than an ideological 
sweep. Along with new, conservative committee chairmen in the 
Senate, there are several other Republicans in important spots 
with moderate social and political views: Charles Percy of Illinob 
at the Foreign Relations Committee, Mark Hatfield of Oregon at 
Appropriations, and Bob Dote of Kansas at Finance. Reagan can 
neglect these Republican moderates, not to mention the Demo* 
crats, only at his peril. 

“If he can go to the people and mobilize them and reach out 
and broaden his coalition, then he’ll do well,” commented How* 
ard Baker, the Senate Republican leader. “But if I’m wrong about 
him and it turns into crystalline conservatism, it won’t work." ' 

That is a point on which Reagan has had considerable tutor- 
ing. During the campaign, Reagan's advisers urged him to show 
compassion and moderation. He made a deliberate effort to soften 
dogma and reach across party lines for support. “Our message will 
be: We have to move ahead, but we’re not going to leave anyone 
behind,” he declared in his speech to the Republican Convention. 
“We Republicans believe it is essential that we maintain both the 
forward jnomentum of economic growth and the strength of Ihc 
safety net beneath those in society who need help.” Trying to ease 
fears among women and the elderly that he would neglect them, 
Reagan pledged to fight discrinunation against women and to 
protect the integrity of the Sodal Security System. 

Nonetheless, it was only natural for people to question how 


157 



REAGAN THE MAN, THE PRESIDENT 

much of this was political expediency in the heat of a tight cam- 
paign and how much represented lasting moderation and compas- 
sion. The real issue, however, may be less Reagan’s political 
adaptability than the gaps in his life experience. For ironically, 
consistent success and the ease with which he has moved through 
life may have produced blind spots toward the disadvantaged that 
underlie some of his most fundamental political attitudes and as- 
sumptions. 

Reagan has tasted some adversity, but little of his own mak- 
ing. He has spoken movingly of his father’s drunkenness and of 
learning one Christmas Day during the Depression that his father 
had lost his job. He generally avoids mentioning that his first mar- 
riage, to film star Jane Wyman, ended in divorce, and that he is 
America’s first divorced President. He rarely alludes to the fact 
that his grown children have clashed with him personally and 
politically and have broken away from his traditional values to 
pursue the very different and open lifestyles of the new genera- 
tion. 

Characteristically, Reagan himself has moved through life 
achieving success fairly easily and without suffering the sting of 
serious failure. Although his family beginnings were humble and 
he had to hunt to get his first jobs, his initial screen test got him an 
opening in Hollywood; and though he never became a top star, he 
quickly established himself as a competent leading man. His 
union leadership vaulted him into the world of Hollywood 
moguls. Over the past three decades, he has accumulated wealth 
and property and moved among the weU-heeled corporate execu- 
tives and celebrities of southern California, rarely rubbing shoul- 
ders for any period of time with less fortunate Americans. 

Now there are some, including his former campaign manager, 
John P. Sears, who fear that the surmy existence that Reagan 
counts as such a blessing may prove a political handicap to him in 
the Presidency. Their contention is that it deprives him of true em- 
pathy for the other side of the tracks, the kind of instinctive under- 
standing of the little people that builds credibility for a President, 
helps forge a durable consensus, and moderates the impulse to- 


158 



MR. REAGAN GOES TO WASHINGTON 

ward rampant budget-cutting when it threatens to cause too much 
social pain. 

Nonetheless, in terms of political tactics, Reagan has proven 
himself surprisingly flexible and open in spite of the dogmatic 
ring to his rhetoric. In 1976, when Sears went to Reagan propos- 
ing Senator Richard Schweiker of Pennsylvania as the best possi- 
ble running mate to lure needed delegates from Gerald Ford, 
Reagan accepted without blanching at the liberalism of Schweik- 
er’s record. The tactic did not work and Reagan took great heat 
from unhappy conservatives, but he still reappointed Sears his 
1980 campaign manager — until Scars’ tactics of keeping Reagan 
under wraps in Iowa failed. 

Again in 1980. when a new set of strategies came and told 
Reagan that his old rival, Gerald Ford, and his more recent rival, 
George Bush, had the kind of moderate images that could help 
him most to broaden his appeal in the general election campaign, 
Reagan swallowed his pride and tried first one and then the other. 
He passed over his personal preference, the champion of the con- 
servatives, Senator Paul Laxalt of Nevada, a close friend and 
longtime conservative ally. 

That same pragmatic openness has carried into the early 
phases of his administration, where he has resisted the pressures 
of the New Right for ideological purity on key appointments. On 
the day after the election, two prominent voices of the New Right, 
Paul Weyrich, head of the Committee for the Survival of a Free 
Congress, and Terry Dolan, Executive Director of the National 
Conservative Political Action Committee, warned Bush to toe the 
ideological line and called for the replacement of Senator Howard 
Baker of Tennessee, another moderate, as the prospective Repub- 
lican leader of the Senate. Evidently reflecting the view of some 
ardent Senate conservatives, they caUed for Laxalt to be the new 
leader. 

However tempting that may have sounded to Reagan, he 
chose shrewdly — with Laxalt’s wise encouragement — to back 
Baker unequivocally. Within twcniy-four hours, Laxalt had said 
he bad no intention of opposing Baker, and Reagan threw his 


REAGAN THE MAN. THE PRESIDENT 

weight solidly behind the Tennesseean. At a Los Angeles press 
conference on November 6, Reagan scotched any conservative 
plans to unhorse Baker by observing that “I not only have confi- 
dence in Howard Baker but I have been informed by members of 
the Senate that there is no friction and there is no move going for- 
ward to change in any way ... his position He will be the Ma- 

jority Leader of the Senate.” 

Alerted by the bad press and costly political insulation that 
Jimmy Carter had built for his Presidency by initially surrounding 
himself with a narrow circle of fellow Georgians, Reagan passed 
the word in advance of the election through his longtime aide, Ed 
Meese, that “the senior White House staff is not going to be nine 
Californians.” By mid-November, Reagan had quickly made 
good on that. He had named Meese to his top advisory position. 
Counselor to the President, with Cabinet rank and authority over 
the Domestic Council and National Security Council staffs at the 
White House. But for White House Chief of Staff, Reagan picked 
James A. Baker, III, a tall, amiable, fifty-year-old Texas lawyer 
who had led Ford’s forces against Reagan at the 1976 Republican 
Convention and Bush’s primary campaign against Reagan in 
1980, before he joined the Reagan general election campaign in 
the fall as a senior adviser. 

Jim Baker, a tough-minded politician with Washington ex- 
perience as Under Secretary of Commerce under President Ford 
and a reputation for integrity and moderation, had impressed 
Reagan and his wife, Nancy, as he personally coached Reagan for 
the 1980 presidential debates and masterminded Reagan’s debate 
strategy. Baker led the efforts to persuade Reagan to debate Car- 
ter rather than trying to coast home on a shrinking lead, and the 
debate paid handsome returns. Baker also scored points with Rea- 
gan’s CaHforma entourage for his loyalty, his solid command of 
campaign finance that left them in strong shape for the final push, 
and his firm, decisive management of whatever fell under his tute- 
lage. StUL the choice was unorthodox. 

“Think of what that choice represents,” said one Easterner 
who joined the campaign headquarters last summer. “It makes 


160 



MR. REAGAN GOESTO WASKfNGTON 

Reagan the first President in years to pick a chief of staff who 
doesn’t come from his home state or his oJd gang. It’s a very 
healthy sign " 

■_ In his transition to the White House, Reagan also endorsed 
the decision of Mcese, his transition director, to strike a balance 
between outspoken conservatives like William R. Van Cleave, a 
hawkish defense specialist from the University of California; Lau- 
rence Silberman, a San Francisco banker and former U.S. Ambas- 
sador to Yugoslavia: and former officials with less controversial 
reputations who gained Washington experience under the Nixon 
and Ford administrations. 

Among them were Caspar Weinberger, former Secretary of 
Health. Education, and Welfare and Federal Budget Director; 
Anne Armstrong, former U.S. Ambassador to Great Britain; Wil- 
liam J. Casey, former Cbainnan of the Securities and Exchange 
Commission: Gerald Parsky, a former Assistant Secretary of the 
Treasury; Richard Shubert, a former Under Secretary of Labor; 
Elizabeth Dole, a former Federal Trade Commissioner, Richard 
E Wiley, former Chairman of the Federal Communications Com- 
mission; and Richard Fairbanks and Stanton Anderson, two 
Washington attorneys with xyhite House experience. Overall, it 
was a far more experienced set of specialists than President Carter 
bad called upon four years earlier. 

The firet appointments signaled Reagan’s inclination to turn 
to talent and experience rather than to ideological allies to staff 
his government. Even on substance, he hinted at early flcxibUity. 
When Republicans in the Jame-duck Senate began advocating 
quick passage of a tax cut package differing from his own pet 
proposals in content though not in size, Reagan responded posi- 
tively. ‘Td be delighted to sec them do it,” he said. 

All this is in keeping with Reagan’s record as Governor of 
California. He campaigned as a missionary conservative but gov- 
erned, some said, as a “closet moderate.” His longtime press secre- 
laiy.. Ljvn Nofz^er^ onccjokiqglv called him “a Fabian conserva- 
tive.” 

Indeed, if Reagan’s eight yean as Governor of California are 


J6I 



REAGAN THE MAN. THE PRESIDENT 

any guide, he will suqjrise many voters as a more pragmatic and 
moderate President than he advertised in his campaign. As Gov- 
ernor, he had a bumpy beginning, gradually learned the art of 
governance, and ultimately forged legislative compromises and 
accepted ideological accommodations that could hardly have been 
imagined during his first campaign. He promulgated huge tax in- 
creases, protected social programs, doubled the state budget, 
helped education, and signed a tough environmental control law 
and a liberalized abortion law, all at odds with his stump rhetoric. 
His welfare reform was a blend of his own bent for efficiency by 
restricting eligibility and Democratic generosity in the form of 
more liberal benefits for those who qualified. But philosophical 
inconsistencies, in the name of realism, never troubled Reagan 
then or since. He still feels he has a solidly conservative record, 
and among his most proudly proclaimed achievements was his 
S5.7 billion in tax rebates, mostly to local governments. 

“There are some people who think you should, on principle, 
jump off the cliff with the flag flying if you can’t get everything 
you want,” he said, rebutting the criticism from the ideological 
right. “If I found when I was Governor that I could not get 100 
percent of what I asked for, I took 40 percent.” Often, he settled 
for a good deal less, or reversed direction entirely. 

Reagan has the capacity, once dissuaded from a long-held 
view, to shift ground quickly and to extricate himself, sometimes 
with a touch of humor that eases the political pain. 

In California, he had campaigned vigorously against a state 
withholding tax. On this key symbolic issue, he said, his feet were 
set in cement. But in 1971 the state’s finances were in such dire 
straits that his financial advisers informed him that the only way 
to deal with the situation was a state withholding tax. Reagan 
called an emergency session of the Legislature, and with grace and 
a bit of self-deprecating humor, he proposed the withholding tax. 
A faulty heating system made a racket at the press conference 
where he was announcing his turnaround. The noise, he quipped, 
was the soimd of the cement breaking around his feet. The audi- 
ence roared. Later, the capital press corps made a gift to Reagan 


J62 



MR, REAOANGOESTO WaSHINOTOK 

— a pair of his own brown shoes, obtained from his wife, set in 
cement. For a long time he kept the memento in his office. 

Similarly, he cut his political losses quickly last summer when 
his effort to recruit Gerald Ford as his vice-presidential running 
mate fell through late on the third night of the Republican Con- 
vention in Detroit. Approving a consensus of his political advisers, 
he moved quickly to choose George Bush. Then, following his 
own political instincts against the advice of his convention floor 
manager, Bill Timmons, and his friend. Senator Paul Laxalt, he 
broke political tradition and made a midnight appearance at the 
convention hall, which had excitedly been awaiting word of a 
Reagan-Ford ticket. Reagan announced that his choice was Bush. 
His action stunned the hall, but it foresiallcd an insurrection by 
disgruntled conservatives and prevented overnight headlines fo- 
cused on the unhappy ending of bis unprecedented negotiations 
with Ford over the Vice-Presidency. 

Surprisingly, perhaps. Reagan has never been a politician’s 
politician with a love of legislative maneuver. He’s an orator, a 
standard-bearer, a performer who thrives on playing to the crowds 
and a storyteller who enjoys getting off a good joke or a one-liner. 
But he is not by habit or instinct a member of the fraternity of 
politicians. In California, be did not seem to enjoy the horse trad- 
ing, back slapping style of state house politicians nor did he fre- 
quent their haunts. Aides had to prod him to show up at political 
receptions to break the ice. For a long time, he was a loner, much 
like Jimmy Carter. 

“The first year or two of Reagan’s administration in Califor- 
nia was a disaster,” recalled Bill Baglcy, a moderate Republican 
who served one term as Assembly Speaker. “The Reagan crowd 
ran against the government and against Sacramento and they 
came in on their white .horses and railed against the Legislature. 
The people around the Governor didn't like us. In their view, we 
were the hacks he’<t run agamst and we didn’t like being treated 
that way.” 

But ultimately Reagan began to mix a bit, and, at the start of 
his second term, he struck a deal with Bob Moretti, the Demo- 


163 



REAGAN THE MAN, THE PRESmENT 

cratic Speaker of the new Assembly, on the welfare reform pro- 
gram. That proved a model for numerous legislative compromises 
that served him well. And like Jimmy Carter, Reagan told audi- 
ences during the campaign that he felt he could handle Congress 
because he had successfully handled his state Legislature back 
home. 

Actually, Carter once told a joke on himself for being so 
naive. He said he’d been advised by friends to treat Congress like 
the Georgia Legislature. ‘T tried it,” he said, “and they treated me 
like the Governor of Georgia.” In other words, he got nowhere. 

There is a considerable difference between Reagan’s experi? 
ence in California and Carter’s in Georgia, however. Cahfomia is 
a vigorous two-party state with a nearly fuU-time Legislature, 
whereas Carter had to deal essentially with a one-party, part-time 
Legislature. In six of his eight years, Reagan was working with a 
Legislature controlled by the opposition party, which is what he 
now faces in one house of Congress. Moreover, as one of the most 
liberal states in the union, California was a setting where Reagan, 
even as a conservative, had to accept many social programs on a 
scale unheard of in Georgia. Nevertheless, he stiU faces a far more 
potent and diverse power structure in Congress t han he dealt with 
in his home state. 

Republican control of the Senate will help Reagan muster ma- 
jorities in that chamber. In the House, he enjoys a philosophical 
majority of conservatives. At least initially, the mainstream 
Democrats, sensitive to the election returns, may let Reagan 
largely have his way so that he cannot go to the voters with the 
complaint that the Democrats are obstructing his programs and 
defying the popular wilL 

The early maneuvering of the new Congress may have been 
foreshadowed by the tactics of the House Budget Committee in 
the 1980 lame-duck sessioiL By writing some of Reagan’s tax cut 
pledges into the committee’s budget resolution but leaving it up to 
Reagan to make the actual cuts, the Democrats felt they saw an 
advantage in putting the monkey on Reagan’s back to deliver on 
his campaign promises. Some are skeptical that he can do it But if 


764 



MR. REAOAN GOES TO WASHINGTON 

this tactic prompts Reagan to cut too deeply into popular sodal 
programs or he presses ahead loo rapidly with plans to dismantle 
the Department of Education and the Department of Energy, that 
may galvanize the Democrats faitiy quickly and test how well 
Reagan copes with determined legislative opposition. 

Mindful of his need for suppoit from across the political aisle, 
Reagan began disarming potential adversaries by talking right 
after the election about the need for bipartisan foreign policy. He 
named three Democratic conservatives. Senator Henry M. Jack- 
son of Washington, the recently defeated Senator Richard Stone 
of Florida, and Jeane Kirkpatrick, a Georgetown University polit- 
ical scientist, to his foreign policy advisory board. On his first 
political Visit to Washington, before Thanksgiving, he made a 
point of meeting with Democratic Congressional leaders as well as 
Republicans, a sign that he recalled from his Sacramento days the 
political benefits of courting the opposition as well as his own par- 
tisans. 

Paradoxical as it sounds, Reagan may have won too much of a 
good thing when the Republicans gained control of the Senate. He 
cannot blame the Democrats for any failures in that body, and it 
will take considerable dexterity to mold fifiy-ihree Republicans 
from all points on the ideological spectrum into an efTectivc work- 
ing majority for his principal objectives. 

So long have the Republicans been in the minority that the 
upstart habits of dissent and opposition may die hard. A few liber- 
als and moderates, like Senator Hatfield of Oregon, sent out early 
signals that they were unhappy with the Reagan approach on de- 
fense and budget-cutting. But initially Republican conservatives 
may be more of a headache, by going off on tangents and firing 
up divisive controversies over what, for Reagan, as President, will 
be side issues. 

No sooner had the election teiums been tabulated, for exam- 
ple, than conservatives like Strom Thurmond, Jake Gam, and 
Orrin Hatch were sounding off with the enthusiasm of rookies in 
spring training about the need to restore capital punishment and 
school prayers and to abolish guaranteed wage rates at Federal 


/6S 



REAGAN THE MAN, THE PRESIDENT 

construction sites. Thurmond and Jesse Helms of North Carolina 
pushed through the Senate a rider on an appropriations bill to bar 
the Justice Department from entering suits to use busing to im- 
prove racial balance in schools. That set off squawks from Repub- 
lican as well as Democratic liberals that affirmative action pro- 
grams would be in jeopardy from the new right-wing strength. 

The list of potentially emotional side issues is almost endless. 
And if Reagan gets dragged into such political byways, he may 
find that he has wasted his early political capital and that his 
major initiatives are in trouble because he has alienated either his 
conservative hardcore or the moderates whose support is vital on 
the big votes. 

Much of the blueprint for the Reagan Presidency is borrowed 
from his California years. Reviving themes from 1966, Reagan 
has pledged to freeze government hiring and to squeeze 7 to 10 
percent in savings from the Federal budget over four years 
through greater efficiency. As in California, he has moved to set 
up citizen task forces to scour the Federal system for mismanage- 
ment, waste, and fraud, and he immediately appointed his former 
California Finance Director, Caspar (“Cap the Knife”) Weinber- 
ger, to use his cutting shears on the 1981 Federal budget. 

As a campaigner, Reagan loved to point out that California is 
the world’s seventh largest economy and that, as Governor, he oc- 
cupied the second biggest executive job in American politics. But 
there are enormous differences between Sacramento and Wash- 
ington. In California, Reagan did not have to deal with foreign af- 
fairs, manage the defense establishment, or take responsibility for 
the health of the national economy, his three most consuming 
tasks as President. In part, at least, his state’s prosperity and his 
tax rebates were a dividend of booming times that owed little to 
his own policies and that no longer exist to simplify the policy 
choices he must make as President. Even if the economy has a 
mild upward blip as he takes office, it is now up to Reagan and his 
economic advisers to engineer sustained growth in order to do all 
that he has promised. 


766 



MR. REAGAN GOES TO WASHINGTON 

The sheer sprawling size and complexity of the Federal estab* 
lishment and the competing interests of its vast Cabinet depart- 
ments defy easy control and coordination. As Governor, Reagan 
could issue line-item vetoes, striking out specific programs from 
the budget, but he has no such authority in the White House. He 
must bargain and trade as the budget wriggles through Congress, 
then accept or reject it, all in huge departmental chunks. At the 
state level, too. Reagan had more legal power and flexibility in 
dealing with the civil service than be will at the Federal level. 
Politically, he now faces entrenched alliances of Federal bureau- 
crats, Congressional commlitces, and special interests — what an- 
other former Governor called “the iron triangle” — ready to blunt 
his plans to cut programs, dismantle agencies, and turn over some 
Federal functions to the states. 

Whatever the obstacles, Reagan has decided to put the imprint 
of his own corporate style of leadership on Washington. He is 
transplanting one central element of his Sacramento experience — 
his use of a small inner Cabinet as his principal policy-making 
body. As a political chairman of the board, Reagan liked to meet 
regularly with his five principal Cabinet officers and his chief of 
staff, making the thirty-two other state department heads report to 
him through this inner core. Those small Cabinet meetings were 
his forum for debating poli^ options with his closest advisers. As 
they argued, Reagan would often ply the participants with jelly 
beans, his favorite candy, or arouse them with one-liners to ease 
the tension if the arguments got too heavy. Sometimes he would 
make decisions on the spot, sometimes later. And he delegated to 
the Cabinet officers the responsibility to carry out his decisions, 

Reagan and his aides took one look at the current style of 
Federal Cabinet meetings — sometimes attended by twenty-five 
people including department beads, the Budget Director, C.I.A. 
Director, trade representative. United Nations Ambassador, eco- 
nomic adviser, White House Chief of Staff, and other aides — and 
decided they were too unwieldy, loo large for the kind of candid 
give-and-take that Reagan wauled. So they adapted the Sacra- 
mento model and came up wth an Executive Committee of the 


167 



REAGAN THE MAN, THE PRESIDENT 

Cabinet, seven or eight key figures like the Vice-President, the At- 
torney General, the Secretaries of State, Treasury, Defense, Agri- 
culture, and Health and Human Services — plus Ed Meese, Rea- 
gan’s California chief of staff now acting as a Counselor to the 
President and coordinator of Cabinet business and running the 
staffs that write up policy options for the Cabinet. 

To emphasize the collegial character of the Cabinet and the 
primary function of its members to advise the President on policy 
matters across-the-board rather than to act as advocates for the 
departments they head, the Reagan blueprint called for Cabinet 
Secretaries to take offices in the Executive Office Building next 
door to the White House. “Geography is important in Washing- 
ton,” explained one Reagan aide. “The location of their offices is 
a symbolic move.” 

Moreover, Meese contended, the Reagan scheme will hope- 
fully reduce the “built-in” competition over policy-making be- 
tween the Cabinet and a powerful White House staff, a rivalry 
that has hampered previous administrations. The small inner 
Cabinet, suggested William French Smith, Reagan’s close friend 
and personal attorney, “provides a diversity of input but is not so 
large that it’s unmanageable.” And once the Cabinet officers have 
had their say, their chance to dissent, he added, they are tacitly 
committed to loyalty on all presidential decisions. 

No less experienced a figure than former President Nixon, 
who once entertained the idea of a super-Cabinet himself, is 
skeptical. It is unrealistic, Nixon has said, to expect collective 
Cabinet responsibility on the British model. “Every new President 
takes office promising a strong Cabinet of independent members 
and some new Presidents take office reaUy believing this prom- 
ise,” Nixon wrote in a Time magazine essay this faU. “But each 
soon learns that there have to be limits on the individual Cabinet 
members’ independence, and that the Cabinet as a collective body 
is not suited to decision-making. . . . Each department is a sepa- 
rate fiefdom; if there is to be coherence and direction to the ad- 
ministration’s policies, the President has to impose that direction 
from the top, cutting across the often conflicting interests of the 


168 



MR. REAGAN GOES TO WASHINGTON 

various depaitmenls. The President must, of course, consult his 
Cabinet members, just as he consults the leaders of Congress. But 
on the larger questions only he can decide; only he can lead.” 

In the past, Ihc Reagan approach has put a heavy premium on 
the calibre and experience of his principal advisers.. Some who 
have worked with him, like John Sears, contend that Reagan's de- 
pendence on his Cabinet and staft makes him, in essence, the cap- 
tive of his inner circle. They see him as a leader who ratifies the 
consensus of bis closest advisers on many decisions rather than 
origicating his decisions in lonely isolation, as Nixon did, or by 
forcing the clash of competing ideas from individual advisers, op- 
erating on their own, as Franklin D. Roosevelt did. 

“Reagan sits at any gathering of close advisers as an interested 
participant rather than as the leader who orders the discussion,” 
Sears commented. “He’s not a stupid man. He appreciates the nu- 
ances of what is proposed to him. It’s just that he’s not the origina- 
tor of ideas. He's a more malleable and moderate person than he’s 
generally thought to be. He’s not a cooceptualizer. He’s a bor- 
rower and an endorser. It’s fair to say that on some occasions he is 
presented with options and selects one, hut it is also true that in 
other instances be simply looks to someone to tell him what to 
do,” 

Sears’ theory is that Reagan learned to accept the advice of 
handlers during his long years as an actor in Hollywood when 
producers and directors gave him a script and told him what role 
to play. Sears cites his own experience in persuading Reagan to 
accept Schweiker as his 1976 running male or to go along with the 
cautious, bicnderized, aloof style of campaigning at the start of 
1980, though when that failed, Reagan angrily dismissed Sears at 
the urging of conservatives. Later, a subsequent group of advisers 
pushed Reagan first to keep, then to get rid of Republican Na- 
tional Chairman Bill Brock, and finally to retain him when that 
stirred up opposition among Republican regulars. It was his cam- 
paign staff, too, that persuaded him, despite his initial reluctance, 
to try first Ford and then Bush as his running mate. In each 
Reagan was moved by the consensus of his staff or close frien 


169 


REAGAN THE MAN, THE PRESIDENT 

“It is the endorsing process that accounts for the difference be- 
tween Reagan, the campaigner, and Reagan’s more moderate 
record as Governor of California,” Sears wrote in The Washington 
Post last summer. “The white-carded stump speeches are Reagan, 
the performer, playing to a known audience and sending the 
crowd away with its money’s worth. As Governor, there was no 
crowd, merely decisions to be made, only a few of which were 
very exciting. Reagan sat with his California Cabinet more as an 
equal than as its leader. Once consensus was derived or conflict 
resolved, he emerged as spokesman.” 

Others who worked with Reagan during that period strongly 
dispute Sears’ portrait. “If it’s a routine decision, it’s probably true 
that Reagan goes along with a consensus,” comments William 
French Smith, a California attorney who served with Reagan on 
the University of California Board of Regents for several years. 
“But believe me, he’s any thin g but a rubber stamp. The whole 
Board of Regents could go one way and he’d go the other way if 
he felt strongly. He’d overrule the whole group without batting an 
eye. What’s more, he’ll make a decision promptly and decisively, 
and never look back.” 

Others say that Reagan has often received divided counsel but 
this has not paralyzed him from making decisions. As Governor 
he was urged by some Cabinet aides to order construction of Dos 
Rios Dam in northern California as a flood and water control 
measure in the Round Valley region. Cabinet opponents argued 
against the project on grounds it would destroy a very picturesque 
area and violate a treaty with Indians living there. In the end, 
Reagan decided against the dam. “He didn’t want to go against 
the Indian treaties,” recalls Ed Meese. 

In the 1980 campaign, Reagan insisted, against the advice of 
his political aides, on backing a constitutional amendment ban- 
ning abortions. Later, some advisers urged him to back away from 
his plan for a three-year, across-the-board 10 percent annual in- 
come tax cut, but Reagan stuck with it. Finally, he received con- 
flicting advice on whether he should debate Carter this fall and 


170 



MR. REAGAN GOES TO WASHINGTON 

came down quickly on U>e side of 0.e pro-deba.e majority on his 

'“'^.ike Eisenhower, Reagan likes to get his tafomration for deri- 
sions orally or in adver- 

ten to the arguments, saysEdMeese. H , ,c. k,,, nossible 
sary situation, in the contest of ideas, you get the best po s me 
Zs and the widest scope and variety of f 
reading, ifs only two-dimensional. But ' jjaving a 

quesUon the participants. One idea sparks ■ 

Leting creates a focal point for decision-making. You 8=1 
policy advisers and aBer they-ve had an mput, it builds team 

CaUfomia, he Uked one-page cover 
papers that came to him. His executive assistant, ’ 

devised a system of “mini memos*’ four paragraphs 
fint paragraph stating the issue, the second setting ou ■ 

die third providing analysis, and the fourth a 
recommendation. The memos were no more than ’ ® 

words long. At the bottom, if he agreed, Reagan cou 
“O.K. R,R,” On a criUcal policy question, Reagan would gel a 
stream of mini memos, 100 or more, keeping him ® 

changing situation. Sometimes they were accompanied by long 
staff studies. 

“This guy does his homework and comes back with qucslio^ 
that indicate he’s thought about what his staff gives him to ’ 
said Richard Whalen, a Reagan consultant and speechwnter. He 
identifies his concerns as he reads. But he likes to get his in orma 
lion facc-to-face. He likes to look at people and ask them ques- 
tions.” v, I he 

There is a contrary, though minority, view of 
is sometimes not sufficiently demanding of those who bne 
‘To a certain extent, he wants confirmation and 
his own views,” said one former aide. “His operational inc ^ 
is not to say, ‘I want to know the other side. I want to ,t 

subtleties.’ He’s read a lot over the years and he thinks he 


171 



REAGAN THE MAN. THE PRESIDENT 

This former aide suggested that the fault lay vi-ith subordinates 
rclurtant to give Reagan bad news. “Most people around big poli- 
ticians are intimidated by power and the people around Reagan 
are no exception,” this man observ'ed. “Reagan will take contrary 
adsice if you give it to him well. You have to be sharp and persua- - 
sive. He’ll lose his temper. Or his eyes v.-ill glaze over if people 
give him a lot of generalities. He gets bored with a lot of baloney. 
You’ve got to push him. You’ve got to be firm. You have to tell 
him, ‘You’ve been wrong. Governor,’ or ‘You ought to take this 
more into account,’ or ‘Governor, you ought to put it this way.’ He 
doesn’t like it, but he’U take it Fm not sure that some of the j>eo- 
ple around him are always up to that” 

Reagan has several circles of adsisers. The most forthright 
and most trusted are his California Kitchen CabineL These are his 
peers, the old political and social friends "RTth whom he relaxes 
and to whom he turns in a crunch: Justin Dart, the industrialist: 
Holmes Tuttle, owner of several Los Angeles automobile dealer- 
ships; William French Smith, his personal attomej-; and others. 
They coaxed him into politics, helped pick his Sacramento Cabi- 
net in 1966, and did the same job again this time. They also 
nudged him into picking Geoige Bush as \’ice-President, as a 
smart political move that would sit well with the business com- 
munity. 

These are Reagan’s most reliable and most oft-used sounding 
board and, in large measure, thej' tend to reinforce his own Aiew 
of the world, especially his faith in free enterprise, his distaste for 
big government, and his wary suspicion of world Communism. In 
terms of personality, at one end is Dart, a bulky, gruff blunt- 
spoken but likable self-made sunbelt enlerpreneur stfll Aigorous at 
seventy-two; and at the other end is Smith, a trim, precise, com- 
posed, thoughtful, even bookish and worldly attome}' with proper 
Bostonian roots. 

Reagan’s campaign advisers are about a generation v'ounger 
th a n the Kitchen Cabinet. ~rb.sy are mostly men in their mid-for- 
ties and early fifties with personal businesses that thej* left for the 
campaign but did not want to give up for the White House. Most 


172 



MR. REAGAN GOES TO WASHINGTON 


are political technicians and tacticians rather than policy advisers. 
Typical of that group is Michael K. Deaver, Reagan’s campaign 
tour director. Deaver is a smooth, self-controlled profession^ and 
Reagan loyalist with a private public relations firartn Los Angeles 
and with close enough ties to Reagan, dating back to his staff as 
Governor, to serve the new President as a personal aide. 

By far the most important of this group and the one to whom 
Reagan turns most instinctively is Edwin Meese, III, his former 
California chief of staff. Meese is an attorney with a bent for man- 
agement and an interest in police work, now on leave from his 
post as Director of the Center for Criminal Justice Policy and 
Management at the University of San Diego law school. He is so 
management-oriented and thinks so readily in terms of adminis- 
trative structures that he frequently refers to the President’s 300 
most important political appointees as the *’300 top managerial 
jobs” in government. 

Cordial, methodical, and unflappable, Meese, now forty-nine, 
has sometimes been criticized by colleagues as indecisive, overly 
neutral, and disinclined to give Reagan contrary advice, fiut he 
has a good public presence, a friendly manner, a quick mind, and 
organizational skill. Reagan is comfortable with Meese as his 
most bandy collator and coordinator of options. His role as the 
President’s counselor working with the Cabinet on issues makes 
him, as he once said, "ihe pivot point” of the new administration. 
In no other aide does Reagan repose greater confidence, and that 
is why he has chosen to put Meese at his elbow. 

A top Carter White House official came away from his first 
encounter with Meese and other leaders of the Reagan transition 
team impressed with their calibre, their knowledgeability, and 
their calm self-assurance. 

‘They’re good,” said this lifelong Democrat. ‘They’re experi- 
enced. They know what they’re doing and they know what they 
want. They’re better informed than we were four years ago. 
They’re older than we were, less awed and excited about taking 
over the government. A lot of them are Washington veterans. But 
out of twenty-four people, there were only two women. No blacks 

m 



REAGAN THE MAN, THE PRESIDENT 

and no other minorities. They’re more relaxed about their work 
than we were. I have a feeling this White House is going to have a 
hell of a lot more fun than we did. They’re going to have wine for 
lunch. There’s going to be an atmospheric change for the better 
inside the government. Now, whether that will work to the good 
of the country' remains to be seen.” 

Among politicians, Reagan’s closest friend and confidant is 
Senator Paul Laxalt of Nevada. Had Reagan had an entirely free 
hand, without having to worry about geographical balance or 
ideological diversity, or name recognition among voters, he would 
have picked Laxalt as his Vice-President. That would have de- 
lighted his conservative partisans. 

Politics dictated Bush, who in his tireless, upbeat eagerness 
had proven Reagan’s most effective challenger. Bush’s experience 
as U.N. Ambassador, chief American diplomat in Peking, and Di- 
rector of Central Intelligence compensated for Reagan’s lack of 
experience in foreign affairs. With the election over, Reagan has 
talked of using Bush as more than a ceremonial stand-in and the 
presiding officer of the Senate. Not to draw Bush into policy’ for- 
mulation and into the Cabinet, Reagan said rather drily at his first 
post-election press conference, w^ould be to “waste a valuable 
asset.” Each has spoken of their growing friendship and their 
regular contacts by phone during the campaign, and obviousi}’ 
they get on well enough. But Bush’s role has not been defined and 
they are veiy different men. Bush with his Coimecticut Yankee 
roots to the Eastern Establishment and Reagan with his roots in 
the Midwest and his life shaped by HoUyw’ood. It will take time 
for them to forge a full working partnership. 

Reagan’s friendship with Laxalt, on the other hand, springs 
from an instinctive personal camaraderie and conservative ideo- 
logical kinship. They met in 1966 as governors of neighboring 
states and immediately became friends. Laxalt, the son of a 
Basque sheepherder who immigrated to this country, is an open, 
gregarious, striking, silver-haired Westerner given to wearing 
well-polished bools with his tailored suits. He led the opposition 


174 



MR, REAOANGOESTO WASffrNOTON 

to the Paoania Canal Treaties, motivated by concern about na- 
tional defense, but he avoided the emotionalism of other treaty 
foes. In the Senate, he is known for his mild manner and sensi- 
tivity to others’ feelings. 

Twice, Laxalt has talked Reagan into making his runs for the 
Presidency and has become cbainnan of the Reagan campaigns. 
In the Senate, he is the uncrowned leader of the conservatives, a 
man who could have made a bid tWs year for the Senate leader- 
ship but understood at once that it would be divisive and chose 
not to. Membership in the Reagan Cabinet could have easily been 
his, though he fell he could help Reagan more in the Senate by 
managing and channeling feisty conservatives. So close is Laxalt 
to the new President that Howard Baker shrewdly observed, “Paul 
is the one person whose position is so secure that he doesn’t need a 
title in the new administration.” 

As Reagan turned to the business of picking his Cabinet, he 
was looking for a mix of leaders with Washington experience, 
fresh political faces, and expert managers drawn from the world 
of busmess. He wanted what Meese called “independent players 
who will voice dissenting views” but within the framework of his 
conservative philosophy. “Obviously,” said Meese, “he doesn’t 
want to debate the basics in Cabinet meetings. What he likes are 
people who will speak their minds — but team players, not dis- 
senters who leak to the press various options that weren’t taken.” 
Quite deliberately Reagan staffed his various advisory panels with 
Cabinet candidates. 

In the most controversial field, economic policy, Reagan has 
borrowed heavily from the populist “supply side” economics of 
Representative Jack Kemp of Buffalo and California economist 
Arthur Laffer, but the lead in his economic advisory group has 
been taken by more traditional conservatives like former Treasury 
Secretary George Shultz; Alan Greenspan, former Chairman of 
the Council of Economic Advisere; and William Simon, the for- 
mer Treasury Secretary who is a favorite of Reagan’s Kitchen 
Cabinet. When he sought advice on spending cuts, he chose Cas- 


775 



REAGAN THE MAN, THE PRESIDENT 

par Weinberger, a former Federal Budget Director with experi- 
ence and qualifications to take on one of several Cabinet-level 
jobs. 

Reagan put his foreign policy' advisory board under William 
J. Casey, a sixty-seven-year old New York tax lawyer who ran his 
campaign, has a long backgroimd in intelligence, and served as 
Undersecretary of State for Economic Affairs. As time wore on, 
Reagan leaned heavily on former Nixon and Ford administration 
officials like former NATO Commander and White House Staff 
Chief, A1 Haig, former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, former 
Treasury Secretary and Texas Governor John B. Connally, former 
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, and Senator John Tower of 
Texas, the ranking Republican on the Armed Services Committee. 
He also made a point of drawing a Democrat, Senator Henry M. 
Jackson of Washington, into his senior council 

The Reagan team had a problem finding many blacks and 
women for top spots. But among the blacks were Thomas SowelL, 
a conservative economist from the University of California at Los 
Angeles, and Walter E. Williams, another economist from Temple 
University. One or the other has taken the kind of positions Rea- 
gan advocates fay opposing the minimum wage, busing, and af- 
firmative action programs. Among the women singled out by the 
Reagan high command were Anne Armstrong, former U.S. Am- 
bassador to Britain; Jeane Kirkpatrick, a political scientist and a 
conser^'ative Democrat; and Elizabeth Dole, a former member of 
the Federal Trade Commissiotr. 

Reagan’s best known woman ad\iser, however, is his wife, 
Nancy, who is such a constant companion that one friend jokingly 
remarke4 “They are joined at the hip.” Their very closeness has 
fueled speculation and controversy about her political influence 
on Reagan. She has denied having influenced his conversion from 
Democratic liberalism to Republican conservativism in the post- 
war period, having affected his views on pnilicy matters, or having 
engineered any of the various changes in his staff over the years. 
“My husband makes his decisions,” she told a Nev.' York. Twibs in- 


176 



MR. REAOAN GOES TO WASHtNGTON 

terviewer. “1 might suggest an idea to him, but my husband makes 
his decisions." 

Other politicians, especially those who have worked closely 
around Reagan, believe that she reinforces bis opposition to the 
Equal Rights Amendment and to abortion, but otherwise has lim- 
ited influence on issues. Where they sense her weight is on his 
choice of staff or his broader political strategy. Many believe she 
was more eager for him to run for the Presidency in 1976 than 
Reagan himself. ‘‘She’s very much involved in most of the major 
decisions of the campaign, as a key adviser to the Governor,” 
commented Charles Black, national political director for Reagan 
before his staff purge in February 1980. “He’s his own man, but 
she's probably the single most important influence on him. And 
she’s very ambitious for him. as wcQ as totally dedicated.” 

John Sears described her prindpal role as one of a sounding 
board, not so much telling Reagan what to do or not to do but re- 
sponding to his various alternatives. ‘‘It’s more helping him talk 
something through because she knows him better than anyone 
else,” Sears said. Others have described her as a keener, quicker 
judge of people than Reagan, and thus an important influence on 
his choice of top advisers or his running mate. They attribute to 
her a major role in his decision, for example, to let go bis Press 
Secretary, Lyn Nofriger, and even to fire Sears, Black, and Jim 
Lake during the primary campaign after bis Iowa loss. And most 
of his entourage regard it as very important for any top Reagan 
adviser to be on the good side of Nancy. “She’s quicker and surer 
in her judgments of people than Reagan is,” said one aide, “and 
that’s something on which he listens to her and is affected by her 
judgments. If she likes someone, it can help. If she doesn’t think 
much of someone, it can hurt.” 

“Has she influenced me?” Reagan himself responded when 
asked the question. “Yes, because I’ve never been happier in my 
life than I have been with her. She is very much what you see. 
There is a geatleiKss to her, a flercc feeling of famUy loyalty. I 
miss her very much when we’re not together. We’re very happy. I 


177 



REAGAN THE MAN, THE PRESIDENT 

imagine if I sold shoes, as my father did, she would have wanted 
to help me sell shoes. She’s a very intelligent person. I don’t know 
of anything we don’t talk about.” 

Ronald Wilson Reagan has promised the American people no 
less than “an era of national renewal” and the election of 1980 has 
provided him a more favorable setting for a bold experiment in 
conservatism than either he or his partisans had dreamed of. The 
Republicans, surprised by their own success, sense a unique op- 
portunity that must not be squandered by shooting off on contro- 
versial tangents. The Democrats, chastened by their losses, are 
prepared to give the new President a chance provided he does not 
go too far to undo the social programs of the past two decades. 
And Reagan, himself, in his first moves, has been sensitive enough 
to reach beyond his California circle for top-level talent and to 
signal immediate interest in marshalling as broad a bipartisan 
coalition as possible to carry forward his objectives. 

On his first post-elertion visit to Washington, Reagan 
charmed the political establishment, which was flattered by his at- 
tention. “I like him,” said House Speaker Thomas P. O’NetU, Jr. 
“He left an amiable feeling.” With a bit of symbolism widely ap- 
preciated as a contrast with Jimmy Carter, who ran for President 
as an outsider and remained an outsider to much of the city, Rea- 
gan quickly offered the hand of friendship to the city’s civic lead- 
ers and local Democrats by hosting prominent business, cultural 
and political figures at a dinner in the exclusive, Victorian F. 
Street Club. 

“Now you’re in the big leagues,” O’Neill told Reagan joking- 
ly. “He was a Uttle surprised when I said that,” the speaker ob- 
served afterward. “That won’t be the first time he’ll be surprised.” 

Reagan has awakened extravagant expectations and if he is to 
succeed he will need not only a well united party behind him but 
time — time to try to curb inflation, rekindle the productive thrust 
of the economy, restore the nation’s sense of military security, re- 
lieve its fearful and mflationary dependence on foreign oil, and 
revamp the role of the Federal Government in American life. The 


178 


MR. REAGAN GOES TO WASHINGTON 

problems that confront him will take years to solve and the solu- 
tions he proposes will lake years to work, more time perhaps than 
an impatient and undisciplined public will allow, more time than 
a turbulent world may permit. 

The time impcralivc presses Reagan to produce an immediate 
sense of forward motion, to produce the feeling that he is taking 
charge of the situation, that something is being done to cope with 
the drill and uncertainty that caused such an explosive burst of 
frustration from the voters against Jimmy Carter and the Demo- 
crats on November 4. 

With the sense of that urgency, the new administration is fol- 
lowing a timetable that calls for a freeze on Federal luring and a 
dramatic package of cuts in the 1981 budget within ten days of 
inauguration, quickly followed by messages to Congress promot- 
ing Reagan’s 10 percent income tax cut and accelerated business 
depreciation schedules to stimulate the private sector, and another 
message asking renewal of presidential authority to reorganize ex- 
ecutive departments, laying the groundwork to carry out Reagan’s 
campaign pledge to abolish the Department of Education and 
possibly the Department of Energy as well. By executive order, 
Reagan and his Cabinet will quickly begin snipping away at the 
web of regulations that strangles economic growth, as Reagan sees 
it. Decontrol of oil pricing may be speeded up. 

Symbolically, Reagan’s advisers believe, the most important 
action is the drive to hold down Federal spending to cutbacks in 
Federal travel, outside consulting contracts, and the purchase of 
equipment, as well as stretching out expenditures for highways, 
airports, mass transit, and sewage plants, not to mention potential 
savings through trimming eligibility rules and ovcrlappmg pay- 
ments in the food stamp program, school lunch program, bousing 
assistance and Medicaid. “Wc’U never bring down long-term in- 
terest rates unless we show the financial markets we mean busi- 
ness,” said Representative Jack Kemp, an ardent advocate of in- 
centive economics. 

Reagan’s dilemma is that if the cutbacks are too sharp, he will 
arouse the powerful combined opposition of many interest groups 


179 



REAGAN THE MAN. THE PRESIDENT 

and then embroil his proposals in legislative dogfights and delays, 
but if they are not sharp enough, that will undermine his basic 
economic strategy. “If Reagan can improve the efficiency of the 
Federal government without hurting benefits, there isn’t a Demo- 
crat who doesn’t want to do that,” said Representative Thomas 
Foley of Washington, in a characteristic mainstream Democratic 
reaction. “But if the administration moves in radical ways to undo 
•programs enacted over the last-two generations, there will be op- 
position.” 

Even before taking office, the Reagan strategists recognize 
that tampering with the Social Security program would be politi- 
cal suicide. Moreover, Ed Meese among others recalled that 
Jimmy Carter, in his ambitions for an energetic Presidency, had 
contributed to his own undoing by overloading Congress in his 
first months in office. “It’s a big mistake to try to do too much im- 
mediately after taking office,” Meese observed. “We want to pace 
ourselves and keep a firm sense of priorities.” But the high pri- 
ority attached by Reagan to a big rise in defense spending, if ac- 
companied by drastic domestic cuts, may touch off a troubling 
groundswellin Congress that will nag him for months to come. 

Reagan himself, seeking greater public patience, remarked 
that “those things we can do administratively, we’U start doing im- 
mediately, but I don’t think we’ve ever promised the effect wiU be 
imm ediate.” 

One difficulty is that Reagan is bound to be caught in a cross 
fire between hesitant Democrats like Foley and ardent Reaganites 
of the New Right who want strong action and are irked by any 
hint that Reagan is letting what he once called “pale pastels” 
creep into “the bold banner” of conservatism that he held aloft for 
years. “I don’t see the hardcore Reaganites around Reagan,” said 
John Lofton, editor of Conservative Digest. “Sometimes I wonder 
how much of a Reaganite Reagan is, and unfortunately those 
times are becoming more frequent.” 

In his battle for time, the new President has one great asset 
over Jimmy Carter; his capacity to use what Teddy Roosevelt 


180 



MK.REAOAN GOESTO WASHINGTON 

called "the bully pulpit" to communicate his vision to the people 
and to replenish his political power by rallying popular suppon. 

Some have called Reagan the most eflectivc media politician 
of the McLuhan era. So far, his political mastery has not been of 
the people in the political structure, but of the camera, the scene, 
the techniques of mass communication. As Hollywood discovered, 
he is a natural'bom star. In an era of media^dominated politics, in 
which all office seekers and officeholdeTS are actors to some de- 
gree, Reagan has the advantage of the professional. As Jimmy 
Carter discovered in whai for him was their devastating debate in 
Cleveland, Reagan is at home on stage and has been for years. 

But this is not an unalloyed asset for Reagan^ he cannot-afTord 
to misuse it. As the verbal galTes ofhis fall campaign indicated, he 
may trip up and in the White House, stumbles can be very, very 
costly. For the Presidency invites demanding scrutiny to every 
word and Reagan can no longer afford to do freely, without disci* 
pline, what he has done best all these years — play to sympathetic 
conservative audiences, occasionally giving them what some ofhis 
campaign aides have graphically termed "a piece of red meat" in 
the form of hot political rhetoric. Careless words can upset diplo- 
macy abroad or undercut credibility at home, especially for a 
leader who banks heavily on his speeches to generate the momen- 
tum behind his programs. 

"In the first year or so, Reagan will probably get along all 
right with the kind of general approach he used in the campaign,” 
commented a Carter White House ofticial. "But what is he going 
to do after his first year, when the people see the problems arc 
now his and not Carter’s anymore? How is he going to use one- 
liners at that point to explain the complexities of the situation?” 

The sense of momentum is with the Republicans now as they 
take office, but Reagan's own aides arc mindful that it will take 
special effort to control the potential divisions in the Republican 
ranks on Capitol Hill in the months ahead. And further afield, 
events beyond Reagan’s control may inspire to distract him from 
his central purpose. jThe rioting among blacks in Miami, Florida, 



REAGAN THE MAN. THE PRESIDENT 

last spring was an indicator that frustration among minorities, 
especially if they feel neglected by local and national leadership, 
can erupt at any time. Food prices can suddenly shoot up because 
of shortages or OPEC may hike oil prices and play havoc with 
Reagan’s anti-inflation program. For philosophic reasons, Reagan 
has refused to use direct measures to stem the steady upward 
march of domestic wages and prices. 

Like other Presidents, Reagan is following his first impulse to 
turn inward, to nurse domestic ills first and let the world wnit. 
When he w'as asked by Time magazine right after his election 
about the prospects for arms negotiations with the Soviets, his re- 
sponse was: “The first job is to let them see the course we were 
going to follow domestically, getting hold of our economy, 
straightening out our energy problems. And the faa that we have 
the will and determination to add to our defensive stature.” 

The Kremlin may or may not choose to wait and be satisfied 
with slow-moving preparations for arms talk and a rather cool 
relationship with Washington. And in w’aiting, the Soviets may 
become more responsive to the Reagan approach or else more ag- 
gressive in the third world, more inclined to prey upon divisions 
in the Atlantic Alliance, and less inhibited about inteiwening in 
Poland if that situation gets out of hand again. But even if Mos- 
cow is patient, Reagan will be a fortunate President indeed if he is 
not embroiled in some confrontation with Iran, some provocative 
widening of the Iran-Iraq w'ar, some aw’kward Arab-Israeli flare- 
up, some w'orrisome upheaval in the Caribbean, or an economic 
test of strength with OPEC over new oil price increases. As Jimmy 
Carter found out, the world will not cooperate with a President’s 
calendar. 

In short, it will take good fortune, consummate political skill, 
a clear set of priorities focused primarily on the economy, and an 
ability to hold together the political coalition in Congress and the 
popular support among the electorate, if Reagan is to make good 
on the promise of his stunning electoral victory. Above all else, his 
formula for managing the economy must produce tangible results 
within a couple of years. 


182 



MR REAOANGOESTOWASffrSOTON 

“I ihink wc have the opportunity to do what Konrad Ade- 
nauer did in Germany, to ^comc the party of peace and pros- 
perity that remains in power for two generations,” said Jack 
Kemp, one of Reagan’s most enthusiastic backers. “But up to now 
it’s been just campaign rhetoric. We’ll be a majority party when 
we implement the policies that will bring about the prosperity and 
full employment without inflation wc have promised. If we fail, 
this will not turn out to be a significant election.” 


/SJ 



Chronology 


February 6. 19)1 
1920 

i9J2 


J9.U 


1937 


1941 

1942 

1942-1945 

1945 


Born in Tampico. Illinov. 5on of Jack and Nelle Reagan 
Reagan family moves lo Dixon. Illinois, 90 miles west of 
Chicago, nhere be will attend North High School 
Oraduares from Eureka College with a major in economics 
Hired as a SlO-a-game. play-by-play announcer at tadio 
station woe in Davenport. Iowa 
Takes a job as i75-a-i»eek sponsrasles at WHO in 
' Dei hfotnes. loua 

Signed by Warner Brothers, he makes hisTitm debut playing 
a radio announcer tn Eove Is on she Air 
Marries Jane Wyman 

Portrays Ceorge Cipp in Knutf fiorknr. A/t-American 
Daughter Maureen is bom 

Appears tn King's Row. the highlight of his film career 
Serves m the U.S Amy Air Corps, attaining the rank of 
captain 

Adopts a son. Michael 


185 



1947 


1948 

1950 

1952 

1954-1962 

1958 

1962 

1964 


1965 

1966 
1968 

1970 

1976 

1980 


Elected to the first of six terms as president of the Screen 
Actors Guild 

Testifies as a friendly witness in the House Un-American 
Activities Committee probe of the movie industry 

Marriage to Jane Wyman ends in divorce 

Campaigns for Helen Gahagan Douglas in her unsuccessful 
Senate race against Richard Nixon 

Marries Nancy Davis on March 4 
Daughter Patricia is born 

Host of General Electric Theater on television and 
spokesman for General Electric's personnel-relations 
program 

Son Ronald is born 

Switches political affiliation to the Republican Part> 

Final film appearance, in The Killers 

Gains national attention in October through his televised 
“A Time to Choose" address on behalf of Republican 
presidential candidate Bariy Goldwater 
Autobiography, Where's the Rest of Me? (with Richard G. 
Hubler), published 

Elected governor of California 

Makes a last-minute run for the Republican presidential 
nomination and is defeated by Richard Nixon. 

Rccleacd to second term as governor of California 
Narrowly defeated for Republican presidential nomination 
by incumbent President Gerald R. Ford 
Wins the Republican nomination for the Presidency, with 
George Bush as his running mate 


November 4, 1980 Elected 40th President of the United States 


186